Looking for a way to imbue your weekend with a little arts and culture? We might suggest the Huntington Theatre’s breathtaking production of a classic play, or perhaps a visit to a beloved local landmark that is soon to close its doors.
Presented by theHuntington Theatre Company, Playing at the Boston University Theatre through April 7.
To be completely honest, I had never seen a theatrical production of “A Raisin in the Sun” before watching this Huntington Theatre production. Like many people, I was familiar with the 1961 film. But the stage lends another quality to this classic 1959 drama by Lorraine Hansbury, which follows the struggle of a 1950s African American family on Chicago’s south side whose fight to move into a white neighborhood went all the way to the Supreme Court.
Although this play is more than 50 years old, the themes it explores are still resonant. Director Leisl Tommy told me that the play’s relevance is one of the reasons she loves the material.
“It still has the danger and the immediacy that people felt in the audience when it was done in the original production,” Tommy explained. “It’s got so many things that we can relate to today — in terms of family drama, in terms of one family being educated and another not being educated, class crisis, how people struggle with the American dream … None of those things has changed when you’re talking about a poor family struggling to make their lives better.”
The Huntington Theatre’s production is astonishing, tight and captivating. Tommy, who grew up in cramped quarters in South Africa, brings a unique intimacy to the production. With a set of small rooms that revolves as characters move from one to the other, the audience feels the tightness of family forced to live on top of one another.
I almost never give a standing ovation, because I think they’ve become expected, but at the end of “A Raisin in the Sun” I leapt to my feet. This production will force you to ask yourself if we are better off today than we were in 1959 — though you may not like the answer to that question.
Open until Dec. 31, 2013.
The Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester has long been a mainstay for families, educational groups, and cub scouts — which is how I paid my first visit. The museum has a collection of arms and armor that pulls from every pocket of medieval history.
But unfortunately, this bastion of many childhood dreams is closing its doors. The museum has been in dire financial straits for a number of years, and an interim management team recently ruled that it was impossible for the Armory to remain open. The museum’s 2,000-piece collection will move to the Worcester Art Museum, which has found a new vibrancy under director Matthias Waschekv. Waschekv is excited about the chance to preserve the Higgins Armory collection.
“To keep it here was not only a no brainer because of its quality, but also because of the emotional attachment,” he said. “But also, think what message it would send out about a city that is reinventing itself and at the same time it lets go [of] a major collection. It would just catapult us back ten years.”
Of course, the collection’s move is not without a loss. There is the question of what will happen to the staff at the Higgins Armory, and the collection will suffer for not being housed in the amazing Art Deco building that founder John Higgins constructed to display it. But it is wonderful that this collection — one of the top three collections of arms and armor in the country — will stay in Worcester.