The Tennessean Preview: A Raisin in the Sun

Former Titan Eddie George returns to Nashville stage

Amy Stumpfl | The Tennessean

Lorraine Hansberry made history when her groundbreaking drama “A Raisin in the Sun” was produced in 1959, making her the first African-American woman to have her work appear on Broadway. But as Nashville Repertory Theatre prepares to stage this true American classic, Jackie Welch is reflecting on her own history – not only as it relates to Hansberry’s play, but also to the Rep itself.

“My first production with the Rep was ‘Macbeth,’ during the company’s very first season,” said Welch, an actor, writer, director, improv and voice-over artist. “And this play has been with me throughout my career. I played the young daughter Beneatha early in my career, when I was just a couple of years out of college. I’ve directed the play. And now I’m playing the mother, Lena. So this feels like a homecoming in more ways than one.”

The iconic piece explores the hopes, dreams and crushing struggles of an African-American family in 1950s Chicago. The play takes its name from a line in a Langston Hughes’ poem – “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?”

“It astounds me that Lorraine Hansberry was only in her 20s when she wrote it,” Welch said. “The language is so rich, so alive. She provides such insight into the human experience, and what it means to pursue your dreams.”