Theatre students bring their roles to life in ‘A Raisin in the Sun’

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Gabriel Schneider

The setting of “A Raisin in the Sun” was the apartment of the Younger family and featured 1950s architecture.

by Gabriel Schneider, Staff Writer

San Diego State’s School of Theatre, Television and Film is hosting “A Raisin in the Sun” from Feb. 18 to Feb. 25. The play deals with the struggles of the Youngers, an African American family searching for the American dream in the 1950s while facing death, racism, assimilation and poverty. 

“Growing up in a Black household, there are just so many parallels to my own life and the dynamics of my own family,” said theatre arts major Amira Temple. 

Temple played Beneatha Younger, the youngest of the family’s siblings and a relatable character to today’s societal norms. She related to Beneatha’s struggles and pressures of being a woman.

“That feeling of hands always pushing down on you and that pressure to be perfect,” Temple said.

“A Raisin in the Sun” was Temple’s first play at SDSU.

“It felt like home,” Temple said. “It was very easy to jump in with everybody, and everybody could connect to the story in a personal way.” 

Jaden White, a theatre arts major, played Walter Lee Younger for his first lead performance at the university.

“I got to tap into some stuff that I felt when I was a kid,” White said. “Remembering those feelings and going back to being a twelve-year-old to bring back those emotions.”

White faced racism as a child and was able to pull those emotions of frustration and pain into his performance.

Director Niyi Coker, an SDSU professor, gave the original Lorraine Hansberry play a San Diego spin by intertwining real cities and landmarks. Coker depicted the disparities of the family through heavily emotional scenes and comedic elements layered throughout the play. 

Both Temple and White said they were pushed far past the boundaries they thought were possible for these roles but were grateful for the freedom and direction Coker gave the performers.

The thrust stage placed the audience into the apartment of the Younger family, providing an intimate setting. 

Thoughtfully planned out, the set was covered with props from the 1950s while the lighting inside welcomed viewers into the home. Sound effects added to the feeling of being in an apartment with outside noises leaking through the windows and walls. 

Projectors were used creatively to enhance the experience of memories, capturing the audience’s senses.

“(The set) only helped me dive deeper into character and really see the world as my own,” Temple said. To get more information or purchase tickets, go to the School of Theatre, Television and Film website.