Minoring in acting at Howard University, it goes without saying that one of our assignments as young actresses of color was to prepare the “Beneatha Monologue” from “A Raisin In The Sun.” You know the one where she implicitly, and with much detail, communicates why she wants to attend college and become a doctor during an era in America where pursuing a medical career for a woman was difficult at best. Every young girl in high school and college, who plans to become a serious “actress”, has seen, performed or yearned to attack the words of Lorraine Hansberry.
In the new KCET documentary Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes – Feeling Heart by Award-winning director Tracy Heather Strain, this very talented playwright’s life is dissected from her humble beginnings on the South Side of Chicago to the Harlem Renaissance to hiding her authentic self.
Fourteen years in the making, I can tell you it is well worth the wait. In this wearisome world we live in, the words of Lorraine Hansberry resonate now more than ever when she says “an obsessive society will bring fear and tear down everyone around them.” With this past Friday being the anniversary of the young, gifted and black playwright’s death, it is only fitting that we honor her.
Coming from an affluent family, being a lesbian and having an interracial marriage in a time where mixing of the races was considered illegal, Lorraine Hansberry was ahead of her time, never backed down and paved the way for other female voices of color in theatre like Anna Deveare Smith, Suzan Lori Parks, Sarah Jones, Charlayne Woodard, Radha Blank, Lydia Diamond, Lynn Nottage, Katori Hall, Danai Gurira and hopefully many more on the horizon.
I was recently blessed with the opportunity to sit down and chat with Tracy Heather Strain about the doc and Lorraine Hansberry.’s legacy. Here are some excerpts.
Interview with Award-Winning Director/Producer Tracy Heather Strain
Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart will open your mind and your heart to one of America’s most beloved playwrights who has inspired generations with her play, “A Raisin in The Sun”, but the woman behind those words was a well-rounded human being with a wealth of knowledge, heart and activism.
This documentary was part of American Masters’ Inspiring Woman online campaign and premiered Friday, January 19, 2018 at 9 p.m. on PBS