2013 Black History Month Play "A Raisin in the Sun"

We decided to produce Lorraine Hansberry's award-winning masterpiece A Raisin in the Sun as our Black History Month Play for this year, and we are so thrilled to have accomplished such a feat.

We staged it on the Jerry R. Knight Auditorium stage with the audience also on the stage in blackbox. It was a huge success, and all of the students that were involved with this production learned a lot along the way!

"I remember a time when life was freedom..." - Mama

The cast and crew of the WGHS production of A Raisin in the Sun

To view a montage of clips from our show visit the following link

We started the production process in Sept of 2012 to make sure we had enough time to prepare for the epic nature of this kind of show. The script is three acts and each act has at least two scenes. We didn't cut anything but the added scene with Mrs. Johnson. We felt we had enough to tackle without the additional text.
We held auditions and got a solid cast in place, but had to do some re-casting along the way due to schedules and certain amounts dedication required to pull this type of show off. We even recast one part two nights before we opened. The show must go on!
Donald Huston as Walter Lee
Chandler Turner as Mama
SoJourner Wade-Clark as Ruth
Bryce McLean as Travis
Jessica Pierce as Beneatha
Carl Wickman as Mr. Lindener
Josh Gill as Asaigi
 Duncan Kinzie as Bobo
and Demetrius Barnett as George (not pictured)
The setting for this play is described by Ruth as a "rat trap" of an apartment and there is a scene where Mama, Travis and Bennie and cleaning and using roach killer because of the bug problem. There is suppose to be only one window in the kitchen and the space was to feel very claustophobic.
The stage layout and structure was decided early on in rehearsals and we kept moving the walls and the furniture closer together as we went to make it even smaller. By the time we got onto the set we had to cut a bit of the furniture and we felt extremely tight. It was perfect!
The set was constructed in one day with the help of Tony Elliot (WG Alumni - Class of 2011), Mr. Schaefer, Patrick Ryan and Kate Arendes. We kept it simple and used what we had. We had no budget for the show, so our intentions were to try and complete the production without spending anything but money for the rights.
The audience was set up in rows and we were able to seat a total of 90 and the last night of the show we had to send some audience members to sit in the auditoium balcony to watch the show because we were too full to add anymore chairs.
  We installed a temporary box office for the show to bring the audience into the space from the old music hallway and into the makeshift house from the stage left stairwell. It also worked to build some buzz that something was about to open.

We were so fortunate to have three ladies eager to help with the House Management duties for the whole run of the show. They also handled selling our juice boxes and cookies at intermission.
Olivia Kohring, Brigit Carmody and Mel Umbaugh ran the house!
The poster and T-shirt designs were created by Mr. Schaefer. We ended up changing the ticket prices to $7 and $10 this year, so we actually made more profit for the department in the end. (we sold about the same as we always do so the upcharge on tickets didn't hurt audience numbers) 
 We also put up signs in the front of the school this year to help promote the shows and they helped keep the department's productions on everyone's mind as they came and left the school grounds.
We have to be very clever these days to coax the average high school student to choose our activity as their way to spend the evening. With all the other options they have to fill their time, it is getting very difficult to get them in to see a play.
The show was fairly simple when it came to the tech requirements (or so we thought). Once we got closer to opening night we realized how many costumes and props we were going to acually need and the backstage crew got busy!

Lauren Newsome and Jasmine Peterson Stage managed this show like pros!!!
We had several time changes with each scene and each character had several costume changes. We were very lucky to have been able to pull most of the clothing from our department costume stock, but we did have to go wig shopping for Mama, Ruth and Beneatha. (Jessica cut all of her real hair off so that we could do the special effect when Beneatha cuts all her hair off in the first part of the show)
We also did have to buy the parishable goods for the show. They did eat and drink a little on stage,  but we had thought we were going to be actually cooking in the first scene and we decided in the end to fake it. 
The backstage was a maze of entrances/exits, and there were props and costumes everywhere! The team worked well once we got going. Everything got mapped out and labelled. The show got very efficient by opneing night. It was a routine that got set final dress and they rocked it out through the run!
 Kate Arendes and Patrick Ryan (not pictured) ran lights from the regular Aud lighting booth (very far away)

                                                 Jonah Schnell provided the sound design

The sound desing for this show was rather tough and Jonah knocked it out of the park! We had lots of transitional music between scenes, but we also had several sight cue sound effects that really helped add to the feeling of the moment. City sounds, the records they play and phone rings. He was very busy throughout the show.

We set up a special sound booth for this show, similar to past shows we've done in blackbox. Jonah was able to stay close to the action to make sure the sound lined up right. Very successful design and operation.
Garrett Bell was the lighting designer
The lighting was a very cool element in this show and really helped to create the mood. Garrett's design was very effective and efficient. He used what we had and gave the show a very dark and shadowy feel. He also allowed us to make some nice highlighted areas on the stage for special moments.
Mama and Ruth by the window with her little plant
We were also given several practicals to add more depth and to really show the stark quality of their living space. The bare bulb sconces and over the table fixture really added dimension to the design.
The set base painting was completed by several students and then detailed by Mr. Schaefer in little over two days. The scale of the set made it easier to get done quickly. We used paint that we already had left over from several past shows and it allowed us to mix up some very drab colors for the dirty, cracked walls and floors.
Beneatha (Jessica) and Asagai (Josh)
in a last ditch effort to connect on the topic of life-long love.
The couch was a donation from Robin Berger last year and we were thrilled to get some use out of it. The chairs were a donation from the St Louis Rep.

"I hear you Flaming Spear!" - Beneatha


"The only thing she knows how to express is herself" - Ruth 

 "When a cat takes off with your money, he don't leave you no road maps!" - Bobo

 The cast and crew
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