Goodman Theatre to Host Citywide Lorraine Hansberry Celebration This Spring

In conjunction with a production of playwright Lorraine Hansberry's final work, The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, Goodman Theatre presents a Lorraine Hansberry Celebration (April 30 - June 5), curated by Goodman Resident Director Chuck Smith.

Honoring Hansberry's life and career, the celebration will consist of programs and performances that focus on the author's Chicago roots, the forces that shaped her groundbreaking work and her legacy. In addition to scholarly discussions and events designed to highlight her life and career, the celebration will culminate in two major events: Lorraine Hansberry Day as proclaimed by the City of Chicago (May 19), commemorating what would have been Hansberry's 86th birthday and The Lorraine Hansberry Awards (May 24), honoring five African American women, all natives of Chicago and contemporaries of Hansberry, whose work helped transform the American theater.

For celebration information and tickets, visit: GoodmanTheatre.org/Hansberry.

At the center of the celebration is Obie Award winning director Anne Kauffman's revival of The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, Hansberry's final work which premiered on Broadway just three months before her death at age 34 in 1965. Set in Greenwich Village 1964 -- a magnet for ideals and activism of every stripe -- the work eerily reflects today's political climate, holding up a mirror to the injustice and corruption of the contemporary world. As Sidney gets increasingly swept up in the radical issues of the day, however, he ignores the equally dangerous tension mounting between himself and his wife Iris, the one person he holds most dear. The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window appears in the Goodman's 856-seat Albert Theatre starting April 30.

Tickets ($25-$75, as well as special $10 student tickets) are on sale now; visit GoodmanTheatre.org, call 312.443.3800 or purchase in person at the Box Office at 170 N. Dearborn. Goodman Theatre Women's Board is the Major Production Sponsor; Edelman and ITW are Corporate Sponsor Partners; and WBEZ 91.5 is the Media Partner.

"During her all-too-brief life and career, Lorraine Hansberry left an indelible mark on the American theater. It has been an honor and a pleasure to curate the celebration of this great literary giant-and one of my personal heroes," said Smith, who directed a major revival of A Raisin in the Sun at the Goodman in 2000. "The rich history of the Hansberry family in Chicago is always worthy of discussion. Since performances of The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window are scheduled throughout May, the month of Lorraine's birth, a celebration seemed in order. Highlights include exploring Lorraine's lesser-known works like Les Blancs and To Be Young, Gifted and Black. I'm looking forward to sharing a fascinating journey through the life and works of this legendary artist."


EVENTS:
Events take place at Goodman Theatre (170 N. Dearborn) unless otherwise noted

The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window directed by Anne Kauffman

April 30 - June 5

$20 - $75 ($10 Student tickets), Full schedule, tickets and more info: GoodmanTheatre.org/TheSign
The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window follows Sidney Brustein in Greenwich Village, 1964-a magnet for ideals and activism of every stripe. At its center is Brustein's apartment, the gathering place for an eclectic group of bohemians during a time of rapid change. As Sidney gets increasingly swept up in the radical issues of the day, however, he ignores the equally dangerous tension mounting between himself and his wife Iris, the one person he holds most dear.

The Chuck Smith Lecture Series: "In Her Own Words: The Lorraine Hansberry/Studs Terkel Interview"
Monday, May 2 | 7pm

FREE, Reservations Required

After the historic Broadway premiere of A Raisin in the Sun, legendary Chicago journalist Studs Terkel spoke with Lorraine Hansberry, resulting in one of her most incisive and personal interviews. Revisit this extraordinary look into Hansberry's life and art with Northwestern University professor and Hansberry scholar Harvey Young and Goodman Resident Director Chuck Smith.

Artist Encounter: The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window

Sunday, May 8 I 5pm

$5 for the general public; Free for Subscribers, Donors and students

Join Anne Kauffman, director of The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, and Joi Gresham, executive director of the Lorraine Hansberry Literary Trust, as they discuss the complex historical, political and social themes of Hansberry's final play.

Scholar Discussion: A Raisin in the Sun and The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window

Tuesday, May 10 | 7pm

FREE, Reservations Required

Harvey Young analyzes Lorraine Hansberry's first and last plays, focusing on the author's social activism and the political movements each work predicted. Noted Chicago actors read excerpts from each play will be read by some of Chicago's most noted actors.

Carl Hansberry: His World and Legacy | A Bus Tour of South Side Chicago

Saturday, May 14 I 10:30am Departure from the Goodman Theatre; Tour lasts approximately two hours

$15 for the general public; $10 for Subscribers, Donors and Students

Architecture critic and writer Lee Bey leads a bus tour of the South Side neighborhoods where Hansberry grew up -- and tells the inspiring story of her father, realtor and activist Carl Hansberry, and his fight against some of the most restrictive housing laws in the country.

Scholar Discussion: The Drinking Gourd and What Use Are Flowers?

Monday, May 16 I 7pm

FREE, Reservations Required

Director and writer Coya Paz leads an in-depth look at two of Hansberry's unproduced works: the teleplays The Drinking Gourd and What Use Are Flowers? The evening will feature excerpts from these rarely-performed works, as well as contextual discussions of race, justice and the power artists hold to incite change.

Scholar Discussion: Les Blancs

Tuesday, May 17 | 7pm

Arts Incubator (301 E. Garfield Blvd.)

FREE, Reservations Required

Completed after her death and not performed until 1970, Les Blancs, Hansberry's complex chronicle of race, oppression and an Africa on the brink of colonial revolt is discussed by Northwestern University professor Ivy Wilson, author of Specters of Democracy: Blackness and the Aesthetics of Nationalism. Scenes from the play will be performed by local actors.

"Lorraine Hansberry Day," Proclaimed by Rahm Emanuel in honor of Hansberry's birthday

Thursday, May 19 | Schedule below

The Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement, Goodman Theatre
FREE, Reservations required

On what would have been her 86th birthday, the City of Chicago and Mayor Rahm Emanuel proclaim May 19, 2016 "Lorraine Hansberry Day" in Chicago in honor of her life, legacy and impact on the city of Chicago and the American Theater. Enjoy special events at the new Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement at the Goodman. Check the web site for activities on this day including a free screening of A Raisin in the Sun.

Scholar Discussion: To Be Young, Gifted and Black: How Much Has Changed?

Monday, May 23 | 6:30pm

Harold Washington Library Pritzker Auditorium (400 S. State St.)

FREE, Reservations Required

Director and critic Dani Snyder-Young explores Hansberry's autobiography in an interactive analysis of Hansberry's background as it relates to contemporary urban education, intersections between race and class and the ways in which African American women learn to navigate public life. Excerpts from the book will be performed by playwright and actor Lydia R. Diamond.

The Lorraine Hansberry Awards | Hosted by Chuck Smith and Woodie King, Jr.

Tuesday, May 24 I 7pm

Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.; Accessible Entrance at 77 E. Randolph St.)

FREE, Reservations Required I LIMITED AVAILABILITY
Presented by Goodman Resident Director Chuck Smith, New Federal Theatre Artistic Director Woodie King, Jr. and members of the Hansberry family, these one-time-only awards honor the unique cultural contributions of five Lorraine Hansberry contemporaries-African American women who were raised and educated in Chicago, and who went on to make indelible impacts on the American theater. Goodman Theatre is proud to honor these artists, whose work and legacies mirror the pioneering spirit of Hansberry.

These distinguished honorees include:


Born in Chicago, Lorraine Hansberry made history in 1959 as the first African American female playwright to have a work produced on Broadway with A Raisin in the Sun. The play's success led Hansberry, at age 29, to become the youngest American playwright, the fifth woman and the only African American to win the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play of the Year. In addition to earning a Tony Award nomination for the play, Hansberry wrote the screenplay for its 1961 film adaptation, which won a special award at the Cannes Film Festival and earned Hansberry a Writers Guild of America Award. Her second play to be produced on Broadway, The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, was in its early run when Hansberry died of cancer at age 34 in 1965. To Be Young, Gifted and Black, an autobiographical portrait in her own words adapted by her former husband and literary executor Robert Nemiroff, was posthumously produced in 1969. In 1970, Les Blancs, her play about African colonization, ran on Broadway to critical acclaim. At her death, she left behind file cabinets holding her public and private correspondence, speeches, journals and various manuscripts including an almost complete novel. Her published writings also include The Drinking Gourd; What Use Are Flowers?; and The Movement, a photo history of the civil rights movement.

A member of Goodman Theatre's Board of Trustees and Goodman Theatre's Resident Director, Chuck Smith is also a resident director at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe in Sarasota, Florida. Goodman credits include the Chicago premieres of Pullman Porter Blues; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark; Race; The Good Negro; Proof and The Story; the world premieres of By the Music of the Spheres and The Gift Horse; James Baldwin's The Amen Corner, which transferred to Boston's Huntington Theatre Company, where it won the Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Award for Best Direction; A Raisin in the Sun; Blues for an Alabama Sky; August Wilson's Two Trains Running and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom; Ain't Misbehavin'; the 1993 to 1995 productions of A Christmas Carol; Crumbs From the Table of Joy; Vivisections from a Blown Mind and The Meeting. He served as dramaturg for the Goodman's world-premiere production of August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean. He directed the New York premiere of Knock Me a Kiss and The Hooch for the New Federal Theatre and the world premiere of Knock Me a Kiss at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater, where his other directing credits include Master Harold... and the Boys, Home, Dame Lorraine and Eden, for which he received a Jeff Award nomination. Regionally, Mr. Smith directed Death and the King's Horseman (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Birdie Blue (Seattle Repertory Theatre), The Story (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), Blues for an Alabama Sky (Alabama Shakespeare Festival) and The Last Season (Robey Theatre Company). At Columbia College, he was facilitator of the Theodore Ward Prize playwriting contest for 20 years and editor of the contest anthologies Seven Black Plays and Best Black Plays. He won a Chicago Emmy Award as associate producer/theatrical director for the NBC teleplay Crime of Innocence and was theatrical director for the Emmy-winning Fast Break to Glory and the Emmy-nominated The Martin Luther King Suite. He was a founding member of the Chicago Theatre Company, where he served as artistic director for four seasons and directed the Jeff-nominated Suspenders and the Jeff-winning musical Po'. His directing credits include productions at Fisk University, Roosevelt University, Eclipse Theatre, ETA, Black Ensemble Theater, Northlight Theatre, MPAACT, Congo Square Theatre Company, The New Regal Theater, Kuumba Theatre Company, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, Pegasus Players, the Timber Lake Playhouse in Mt. Carroll, Illinois and the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He is a 2003 inductee into the Chicago State University Gwendolyn Brooks Center's Literary Hall of Fame and a 2001 Chicago Tribune Chicagoan of the Year. He is the proud recipient of the 1982 Paul Robeson Award and the 1997 Award of Merit presented by the Black Theater Alliance of Chicago.

Called America's "Best Regional Theatre" by Time magazine, Goodman Theatre has won international recognition for its artists, productions and programs, and is a major cultural, educational and economic pillar in Chicago. Founded in 1925 by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth (an important figure in Chicago's cultural renaissance in the early 1900s), Goodman Theatre has garnered hundreds of awards for artistic achievement and community engagement, including: two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards (including "Outstanding Regional Theatre" in 1992), nearly 160 Joseph Jefferson Awards and more. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the Goodman's artistic priorities include new plays (more than 150 world or American premieres in the past 30 years), reimagined classics (including Falls' nationally and internationally celebrated productions of Death of a Salesman, Long's Day's Journey into Night, King Lear and The Iceman Cometh, many in collaboration with actor Brian Dennehy), culturally specific work, musical theater (26 major productions in 20 years, including 10 world premieres) and international collaborations. Diversity and inclusion have been primary cornerstones of the Goodman's mission for 30 years; over the past decade, 68% of the Goodman's 35 world premieres were authored by women and/or playwrights of color, and the Goodman was the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson's "American Century Cycle." Each year, the Goodman's numerous education and community engagement programs-including the innovative Student Subscription Series, now in its 30th year-serve thousands of students, teachers, life-long learners and special constituencies. In addition, for nearly four decades the annual holiday tradition of A Christmas Carol has led to the creation of a new generation of theatergoers in Chicago.

Goodman Theatre's leadership includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Brian Dennehy, Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Steve Scott, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. Joan Clifford is Chair of Goodman Theatre's Board of Trustees, Swati Mehta is Women's Board President and Gordon C.C. Liao is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.

Visit the Goodman virtually at GoodmanTheatre.org, and on Twitter (@GoodmanTheatre), Facebook and Instagram.



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