Lorraine Hansberry’s Wisdom
Darlene Ortega's review for the Portland Observer of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival production of Lorraine Hansberry's The Sign in SIdney Brustein's WIndow notes that "The play is so far ahead of its time that I wonder if we are ready even now for the prophetic insight of Ms. Hansberry, so famously young, gifted, and black. But I'm grateful that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has gone to the trouble to offer us this opportunity."
Ortega goes on to discuss how director Juliette Carillo and her creative team worked to bring together the several versions of the script that exist to "capture Hansberry's intention and to hone the production to a story that will keep audiences engaged even as they are challenged. . . . Rather than remaining in the box created by her success with A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry dared to write a play that reaches beyond black experience to depict a more expansive range of perspectives, in service of a complex mix of ideas."
Ortega continues to salute the complexity of Hansberry's vision and the strengths of the play itself:
That anyone—let alone a black woman in 1964—dared to assemble this cast of flawed characters and to struggle in such a nuanced way with the problems that occupy their existence is remarkable. But Hansberry attempted more. Her play grapples with what it means to be human, to take a stand and attempt to contribute to positive change, even when one's efforts seem unsatisfying or futile.
Each of the characters struggles uniquely with the problem of engagement—of whether and how to aim for something, and of what balance to strike between analysis and courageous agency. The mix of results is surprising.
The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window opened at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival on February 15 and will continue playing through July 3, 2014. OSF is a not-for-profit professional theatre founded in 1935; their season runs Tuesday–Sunday February through October in three theatres: two indoor stages and a flagship outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre. When you visit you can see one or two plays or up to nine plays in one week. For information about OSF, visit www.osfashland.org.
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