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BWW Interview: Chaundre Hall-Broomfield of A RAISIN IN THE SUN at Guthrie Theater

Chaundre Hall-Broomfield plays George Murchison at the Guthrie Theater

BWW Interview: Chaundre Hall-Broomfield of A RAISIN IN THE SUN at Guthrie Theater "What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?" In 1951, poet Langston Hughes posed these questions, and Lorraine Hansberry answered with a theatrical masterpiece that broke down racial barriers both on and off the stage. The play follows the three-generation Younger family as they grapple with different definitions of the American dream and how to achieve it. When the matriarch, Lena, buys a home in an all-white neighborhood, the Youngers are greeted by thinly veiled racism and financial pitfalls that threaten to pull the family apart and push their dreams out of reach.

We chat with Chaundre Hall-Broomfield who plays George Murchison. This will be Chaundre's Guthrie Debut. He has been in the Lincoln Center Theatre: Pipeline (u/s); Hamitlton (first national tour). His film/television credits include Luke Cage (Netflix), "FBI" (CBS), Kington Business (BET+). He received his training in B.F.A. Acting, SUNY Purchase College. (IG) @drehallb.

How has it been being back on stage in front of a live audience after the last few years?

It is revitalizing. My first passion, when it came to acting, was in theater. There is just something about being able to be on stage vulnerable to a spontaneous moment, that is exciting for me. That is the epitome of the craft of acting, to be able to focus enough to do a 3 hour long show...I feel like its giving me my legs back. I've been doing film and television; it's really allowing me to get back in touch with my structure and my base.

Do you have a favorite moment in the show?

My favorite moment in the show, that I am in, would have to be when I come into the room to see the chaos. To see the family going through the "OCOMOGOSIAY" moment. My favorite moment when I'm not in the scene is the entire first scene between Asagai and Beneatha.

How has the role been for you compared to other roles you've done?

This [character] is morally different than me. He believes he is above other people, even though they are his people. He is a guy that banks on "if I can shower this woman with money and show her a nice time and drive her in my nice car, then she should give me what I want...a wife and sex." For me I'm very open person, a very kind person, at least I would like to think so *laugh*.

To be boo'd at from the audience is super dope, it's my first-time being boo'd at in a show. My castmates said, you are so different, how do you get yourself into that mindset.

Nothing human is foreign to me, even though he operates in the world differently than I do how he goes about his beliefs I can relate to how he fights for his beliefs I can relate. So, it's just a matter of understanding the rights that he believes in. So, if I can get myself into that space and say the words on the page than the story is told.

What was your process for developing your character?

My process was first of all what is the class difference and how does that resonate in my body. I may be more causal...[George] being upper-class, physically that does so much for me. Having my chest out and my chin up and doing that with another person how does my physicality impact them.

Besides that, he is no different than me, he fights for what he believes in and does so unapologetically

How has it been playing your character?

It's been so much fun, being the bad guy is really fun. It's also fun because it enables me to find empathy for every walk of life. George is trying to survive within the rules and structure the world has placed around him. He's trying to thrive in a situation. [George] believes "Why try to fight it". So, to understand that very human desire, it enables me to have more empathy for people who I might on the surface level judge when actually he's just dealing with the cards he's been given.

How has it been working with the cast and the creative team for this production?

The cast is absolutely incredible, we got close pretty quickly and you can feel the support on stage with one another. We are keeping each other safe, while encouraging each other to take chances.

Our creative team is as equally as supportive and I'm very grateful to have this opportunity to tell this story. I want to thank Austene Van for giving me this opportunity. I've been dreaming about being in this play since I read it in high school. So to be able to do it hear, at the Guthrie, is a dream come true.

Have you faced any challenges in this production or with your character?

The challenges I've faced are understanding the cultural differences of today versus yesterday. An educated black man has the privilege to come into a lower class black families home and still hold his chin up. He can openly say "I'm better than you" Where as today, you understand, no matter what your class is, you defer respect.

When I first got into the role I was worrying "well, isn't this disrespectful", where back in those days, this was the acceptable behavior. So, making that transitions

What do you hope the audience takes away from your performance and this production?

Although [George] is pretty despicable on the outside, his desire and to want to survive and wanting to help Beneatha survive, I hope that comes through. It's because of his belief he feels there is no point fighting this rigged game.

There is a line where he says "You read books to learn facts, to get the grades, to pass the course and to get a degree it has nothing to do with thoughts because the world doesn't care about your thoughts, they just care your polite, they just care you stay within the boundaries of the system they setup."

Favorite local spots?

Let me tell you - I haven't explored as much as I wish. When I'm in rehearsal, I go to theater, come home and [study the show], once the play opens, I will be out in Minneapolis and y'all are gonna be sick of me.

Thank you so much Chaundre!

A Raisin in the Sun plays at the Guthrie Theater May 8th through June 5th.

For ticket and show information, click here

Photo courtesy of the Guthrie Theater



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