This month, the Gainesville Theatre Alliance features the work of three theatre professionals working alongside GTA’s college theatre students on domestic drama A Raisin in the Sun, considered the play that “changed American theatre forever” by the New York Times. The play is part of GTA’s “triple-play” February Festival of Theatre, which brings three different plays to three north Georgia theatres, frequently running simultaneously between Feb. 12 and 23.
A Raisin in the Sun, directed for GTA by Equity actor, director and educator Victor Love, centers on the Younger family, a struggling African-American family living in 1950s south side Chicago. When they receive an insurance check following the death of their patriarch, three generations within the household have different ideas about of what the money should be spent on. Mama wants to use the money to buy a house, a dream that she shared with her husband. Walter Lee Younger wants to invest in a liquor store, whereas his sister, Beneatha, has fantastical dreams of going to medical school. Where does personal desire cross the line into family selflessness ?
“What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up, like a raisin in the sun?” This question posed by Langston Hughes, framed the story Hansberry wrote about in A Raisin in the Sun, which was inspired by her own family’s experience with segregation in the 1950s. Hansberry is the youngest American and first black playwright to win a Drama Critic’s Circle award. The Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun was nominated for four Tony Awards.
GTA hired North Carolina native Love, who has extensive movie and television experience, as part of their guest artist program,. Love appeared in TV shows such as “West Wing”, “Miami Vice”, “JAG”, “Seventh Heaven” and “Melrose Place”. His film career includes roles in “Native Son” alongside Matt Dillon and Oprah Winfrey, “Shadow of Doubt” which starred Melanie Griffith and Tom Berrenger, and “Criminal Intent” with James Belushi and Tupac Shakur. His stage appearances include playing Lance Corporal Harold W. Dawson in A Few Good Men at the Music Box Theatre on Broadway and the Duke of Aumerle in Richard II at the New York Shakespeare Festival.
“With the Younger family, Lorraine Hansberry has brought real people to the stage with each one fighting desperately for a dream,” Love shares about the characters he is helping to bring to life on stage. “Selfish combatants actively fighting for what they think will bring them happiness. Bullying, pleading, crying, cursing, scrapping and fighting each other for something that they think will make them whole. What do they find out? Things don’t make us happy or complete… And when all is said and done . . . family is all we have.”
Appearing on stage as Lena Younger, the powerful matriarch of the Younger family, is professional actress Donna Biscoe. Biscoe is a Georgia native who has worked around the country on both stage and screen, appearing on television shows like “One Tree Hill”, “Drop Dead Diva” and “Army Wives”, and in films including “One Missed Call” and “Bly Sky”. Her theatre credits include Doubt at the Alliance Theatre, To Kill a Mockingbird at the Theatrical Outfit, String of Pearls at the Horizon Theatre and Holiday Heart at the Arena Theatre (Washington DC).
A third professional collaborating on the show is Peggy Stamper, who is designing costumes for the Gainesville Theatre Alliance stage for the first time. Stamper brings over 25 years of costume design for film, television, and theatre into her work with the Gainesville Theatre Alliance. Stamper designed the costumes for the hit television show “The Walking Dead” and has worked as a designer on numerous movies, including “Road Trip”, “Black Dog”, and “Odd Girl Out”. She has a music degree from Indiana University Bloomington and also graduated from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City.
Additional professionals are involved in GTA’s February Theatre Fest as music director for She Loves Me, an intimate romantic comedy that runs Feb. 12-23 at Brenau University’s Hosch Theatre, and in James DeVita’s one-man show, In Acting Shakespeare, his humorous and inspiring story of transformation from New Jersey longshoreman to Shakespearean actor. DeVita performs his show Feb. 22-24 at Buford’s new $18 million community center.
Ticket prices for all shows are $16-$18 for adults, $14-$16 for seniors and $10-$12 for students and children, depending on seat location. Boxes are available with 2 or 4 VIP seats for $40 a ticket. Patrons can select their own seats online at www.gainesvilleTHEATREalliance.org or by calling the box office at 678.717.3624, Monday – Friday from 10am to 4pm. MasterCard, Visa and Discover are accepted. Group discounts (20% for 12 or more people) and ADA seating are available through the GTA Box Office.