What was the title of the first play written by a Black woman to be produced on Broadway?
'A Raisin in the Sun' by Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) premiered on Broadway in 1959, starring Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee. The play tells the story of a Black family during the 1940s, and their varying definitions of the American dream. Not only was Hansberry the first Black woman to have a play produced on Broadway, but it was also directed Lloyd Richards, the first Black man to direct a Broadway show.
The play ran for 530 performances, which as of 2021 remains the longest for any Black Broadway writer. Up until 1959, there had only been 10 dramas authored by Black playwrights, all of whom were men.
In 1961 'A Raisin in the Sun' was made into a film starring most of the Broadway cast. In 1973, it was adapted into a musical and was produced for television in 1989.
Hansberry based the play on her experiences growing up on the south side of Chicago. The play contains themes of racial tension as Black families attempt to move into a previously all-white neighborhood. The title of the play comes from a poem by Langston Hughes that reads, "What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?"