Lorraine Hansberry Statue Will Be on Display in Los Angeles This Summer

Titled To Sit A While, the statue features the figure of Hansberry surrounded by five bronze chairs, each representing a different aspect of her life and work.

By: Jun. 01, 2023
Lorraine Hansberry Statue Will Be on Display in Los Angeles This Summer
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Today, The Lorraine Hansberry Initiative announced their plans for programming in Los Angeles that will take place during the summer, including two special installations of sculptor Alison Saar’s statue of Hansberry at Gloria Molina Grand Park from June 14th – June 30th and at the A C Bilbrew Library from July 7th – July 31st.


Titled To Sit A While, the statue features the figure of Hansberry surrounded by five bronze chairs, each representing a different aspect of her life and work. The life-size chairs are an invitation to the public to do just that: sit with her and think. Originally unveiled in New York City’s Times Square on June 9, 2022, the statue is currently on a national tour, with recent stops in San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Detroit, as well as a return exhibition installation at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where its stay coincided with BAM's production of The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window (Lorraine Hansberry), now playing a limited engagement on Broadway.


The full slate of Los Angeles events is as follows:


Gloria Molina Grand Park Installation | Wednesday, June 14th – Friday, June 30th

Following a public unveiling ceremony on June 14th at 6:00 PM, the statue of Lorraine Hansberry, To Sit A While, designed by sculptor Alison Saar, will be on display to the public at Gloria Molina Grand Park's Olive Court (200 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012) during park hours, from Monday - Sunday from 5:30 AM - 10:00 PM.


All-Ages Movement & Writing Workshops | Tuesdays June 20th & 27th, 11:30 AM –12:30 PM

Center Theatre Group will engage teaching artists Estela Garcia and Aja Houston to lead writing workshops at the site of Alison Saar’s statue, To Sit A While, in Gloria Molina Grand Park. The family-friendly workshops are open to up to 20 people of all ages, experience levels and abilities, and will include elements of dance and poetry, starting with guided movement interacting with the sculpture, and moving into a one-word storytelling exercise.


Site-Specific Devised Theatre Workshop | Sunday, June 25th from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

This workshop will devise and perform a theatre piece inspired by Alison Saar’s To Sit A While. Participants will begin in Gloria Molina Grand Park, interacting with and exploring the sculpture. They will then walk to The Music Center Annex to develop a collaborative, movement-based piece, and will then begin to layer in text. Finally, participants will return to Gloria Molina Grand Park for an informal presentation of their piece, which will be viewed by those enjoying the park. Co-taught by Center Theatre Group Teaching Artists Estela Garcia and Aja Houston, this workshop is open to up to 20 people, ages 16 and up, of all experience levels and abilities.


A C Bilbrew Library Installation | Friday, July 7th – Monday, July 31st

The statue of Lorraine Hansberry, To Sit A While, designed by sculptor Alison Saar, will be on display to the public at the A C Bilbrew Library at 150 E El Sugundo Blvd during standard library hours (Monday - Thursday from 10:00AM -8:00PM and Friday - Saturday from 10:00AM -6:00PM).


WACO Theater Center Panel Discussion in collaboration with Support Black Theatre | Saturday, July 29th at 7:00PM

WACO Theater Center will host a panel discussion in collaboration with Support Black Theatre, designed for young and aspiring writers. The panel will take place at WACO and will include LA based writers and playwrights speaking about their creative practice and career journeys. Participants will also have the opportunity to learn more about the Lorraine Hansberry Initiative Scholarship.


To learn more and RSVP to any of the above events, please visit https://lorrainehansberryinitiative.org/los-angeles-installation/.


The statue will remain in Los Angeles until July 31st, when it will continue on its nationwide tour, with the next stop being Atlanta. As the birthplace of Hansberry and the setting of A Raisin in the Sun, Chicago will enjoy an enhanced and permanent installation of the statue after the nationwide tour concludes.


The Lorraine Hansberry Initiative aims to honor Lorraine’s legacy while investing in those following in her footsteps. In addition to the statue tour, the Lorraine Hansberry Initiative has created a unique scholarship to make sure that the next generation is able to follow in Hansberry’s footsteps, regardless of race, gender, or economic situation. Unlike existing university scholarships, this singular grant will be primarily intended to cover the living expenses of three female and/or non-binary dramatic writers of color entering graduate school, with two additional recipients added each year. Each recipient will receive $25,000 for each year of their education, ensuring that they have protected time to write, work with collaborators, and benefit from the guidance of professional mentors in their respective fields. They will go on to create for the stage, television, and film, and their work will reach millions. The first round of scholarship recipients will be announced in conjunction with the LA installation in June.


The Lorraine Hansberry Initiative Leadership Council includes Liz Armstrong, David Binder, Michelle T. Boone, Lily Fan, Kamilah Forbes, Mandy Greenfield, Agnes Gund, Mamie Hansberry, Nantille Hansberry Charbonnet, Taye Hansberry, David Henry Hwang, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Alia Jones-Harvey, Julia Jordan, Anne Kauffman, Renee Landegger, Kenny Leon, Emily Mann, Jaimie Mayer, Stacey Mindich, Dominique Morisseau, Marsha Norman, Lynn Nottage, Antoinette Nwandu, Robert O’Hara, Imani Perry, Charles Randolph-Wright, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Jane M. Saks, Jayne Baron Sherman, Seret Scott, Pauletta Washington, George C. Wolfe, and Charlayne Woodard.


To make a donation to support this important work or learn more about The Lorraine Hansberry Initiative, please visit https://lorrainehansberryinitiative.org/donate.



In 1959, Lorraine Hansberry became the first Black female playwright on Broadway with her play A Raisin in the Sun. It continues to be one of the most produced plays in the world, but Hansberry’s contribution to the world was far greater than that single play. Her entire body of work as an artist, journalist, and civil rights leader has proven to be as incisive and relevant today as it was during her short lifetime and deserves to be studied and revered as such. 


Over sixty years later, female playwrights of color remain the most proportionally underrepresented demographic on American stages. Despite making up 20% of the population, holding 20% of the undergraduate degrees in English literature and in the performing arts, and being chosen by their peers for over 20% of the spots in national playwright organizations, prior to this unusual year following the murder of George Floyd, they only accounted for under 10% of professional productions.


Through this initiative, we will keep the current national conversation about race, justice, and economic equality going by honoring Lorraine Hansberry. We will add to the growing movement to honor women and people of color with physical monuments. And, we will alleviate the financial inequality that discourages women and non-binary playwrights of color from pursuing graduate degrees in her chosen art form.



A vibrant outdoor gathering place, Gloria Molina Grand Park is a beautiful public park for the entire community in Los Angeles County. With expansive green space for gatherings large and small, Gloria Molina Grand Park celebrates the county’s cultural vitality and is host to community events, cultural experiences, holiday celebrations and many other activities that engage and attract visitors from all communities. The 12-acre Gloria Molina Grand Park, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2022, stretches from The Music Center on the west to City Hall on the east and is easily accessible by Metro via the B/D (formerly Red/Purple) line to the Civic Center/Grand Park station. The park was named one of American Planning Association's 10 "Great Public Spaces" in the U.S. for 2013. Working closely with the county, The Music Center is responsible for all operations and programming for the park. https://grandparkla.org/.



As one of the nation’s most influential nonprofit theatre companies, Center Theatre Group proudly continues their more than 50-year tradition of using the art of theatre to broaden horizons and illuminate new perspectives. Their mission is to serve the diverse audiences of Los Angeles by producing and presenting theatre of the highest caliber, by nurturing new artists, by attracting new audiences, and by developing youth outreach and arts education programs. https://www.centertheatregroup.org/.



Estela Garcia, a Los Angeles born native, is an actress, director, movement coach, deviser, community engagement specialist, mask maker/performer, and teacher. She received her MFA from Dell'Arte in ensemble based physical theatre and was a student of the Viewpoints originator, Mary Overlie. In addition to being a resident teaching artist with Center Theatre Group, Garcia is Movement faculty at CalArts and at South Coast Repertory. As a director/movement coach, Estela worked with Kinan Valdez on Popul Vuh: Heart of Heaven, coproduced by Center Theatre Group and El Teatro Campesino, was Puppetry Director for South Coast Rep’s The Long Road Today, and numerous award winning productions with Rogue Artists Ensemble. As an actress, Garcia is best known for her portrayal of surrealist painter Remedios Varo in a play by the same name that she developed and toured to several performance venues, most recently at 2018's [LAX] Performance Festival. Garcia has been a guest artist at Cal State LA, The University of Irvine, Cal State Northridge and East LA Magnet where she helped lead the creation of Ensemble Created Devised Work. In addition, Garcia has led art making, playwriting, mask performance and acting workshops to underserved communities in LA and Orange County.



Aja Houston is a Los Angeles based playwright and teaching artist that hails from Everywhere, USA via Las Vegas, Oklahoma City, Madison, NJ, Rochester, NY and The Bay Area. Aja creates with passion, politics, and magic to build off-kilter, uncanny, and whimsical worlds that humanizes people of the Black diaspora. Aja is a graduate of the M.F.A in Dramatic Writing program at The University of Southern California’s School of Dramatic Arts. She is a proud member of The Dramatists Guild, League of Professional Theatre Women, The Road Theatre Under Construction Playwrights Group, and a provisional member of Antaeus Theatre’s Writer’s Lab. Some of Aja’s work includes: Terrorist is Spelled K-A-R-E-N (developed at The Road Theatre, ATLA Virtual Stage Festival 2020, Under Construction Zoom Festival 2020) Journey to Alice (Eugene O’Neil Theatre Conference Semi-Finalist 2019, New Works Festival III at Pasadena Playhouse 2019, Inkwell Theater’s Max K. Lerner Fellowship 2018) Counting (Inkwell Theatre Max K. Lerner Fellowship 2019, New Works Festival II at USC’s Massman Theatre 2018) The Flight of Emina and Zubaida (Playwright’s Arena, Iron Tongues Festival 2017) Floating on Credit (Dionysian Literary Magazine, Published 2017) Remembrance (DC Black Theatre Festival “Festival Favorite” 2014) and The Spooks (Towne Street Theatre 10 Minute Play Festival 2014). ajahouston.net



A C Bilbrew Library is one of LA County Library’s 85 community libraries. A C Bilbrew features notable collections and resources reflective of the African American and Black experience, including the Black Resource Center, the Golden State Mutual Collection, and the African American Living Legends Series Program Archive. Since 1978, the Black Resource Center has served the informational and educational needs of African Americans and the larger population by supporting research and study on social, historical and cultural aspects unique to the African American experience. A C Bilbrew's Golden State Mutual Collection features one of the largest collections of African American art in the United States and its African American Living Legends Series Program Archive highlights and honors leaders and visionaries of the African American community. More information about A C Bilbrew Library and LA County Library can be found at LACountyLibrary.org.



Founded in 2017 by Richard and Tina Knowles Lawson, WACO Theater Center is a performing and visual arts organization dedicated to the empowerment of Los Angeles artists, young people and stories of the African diaspora. They present, commission and develop artistic works to provide artists and young people a platform and voice to showcase their creativity. https://wacotheatercenter.com/.



Support Black Theatre is a service organization dedicated to capacity-building Black theatres, developing Black artists, and cultivating Black audiences in Los Angeles. Their commitment is to Black people, Black stories, and Black autonomy. Support Black Theatre creates a support system which prioritizes artist health, organizational resilience, and radical unity amongst theatre makers and the community Support Black Theatre serves. https://www.supportblacktheatre.org/.



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