Sunday, November 11, 2012

An educator's response to A RAISIN IN THE SUN

November 11, 2012

by Wade W.
New Leadership Charter School
Springfield, MA

A special thanks to the Playhouse for bringing not only amazing art, but amazingly *relevant* art to the lives of my fifty 10th grade English students from New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, MA. Many of my students had never even seen a play before, and I fear Westport's artistry and professionalism may have spoiled them a little.  But I'll take spoiled & enthusiastic any day!   

As we piled onto the bus for our two-hour ride back to school, I asked them to raise their hand if they enjoyed the play.  Every single hand, unanimously, shot up!  Comments like "Wow, I always thought theater was boring" or "It was so cool to see how Beneatha's character delivered that line; it's just like I had pictured it" or "I love how she came back for the plant, symbolizing her new start - a new place for it to grow better than that dreary window." 

Half of the students were in an English class that had been studying "A Raisin in the Sun" for the past several weeks, and the other half were experiencing it for the first time.  The trip, for both classes, was tied to a unit on identity that we are doing - with specific emphasis on racial, ethnic and gender identity.  My students came back with newfound insights and deep understandings of the thematic nature of the work, and we had rich discussions as a result about the history of African American civil rights and about ties to my student's own experiences/identities today.   

Thanks a million, Westport, for prioritizing educational performances for kids that wouldn't have access to theatre as an art-form otherwise!

Susan Kelechi Watson, Lynda Gravatt, Luka Kain,
Billy Eugene Jones & Edena Hines in A Raisin in the Sun
photo by T. Charles Erickson

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