Rutgers-Newark (RU-N) Law School alumna and retired Vice Chancellor Marcia Brown produced and directed the American theater classic A Raisin in the Sun in its premiere at Newark Symphony Hall along with the Rutgers Theater Department and Assistant Producer Irene Daniels. Performed on Saturday and Sunday, September 17 and 18, the cast received rousing applause from the full house in the Terrace Ballroom.
Brown, who produced and directed RITS twice before, began her work in community theater in New Brunswick in 1979. Brown states, “One of our goals for a Newark striving to move beyond a pandemic and into a city flush with opportunity, is keeping the arts alive through meaningful theater.”
According to Brown, Lorraine Hansberry’s Raisin reminds us that the struggle for dignity for those who have been disenfranchised continues. With this reminder, comes a sense of responsibility for ensuring access to theater and other such cultural events for a wide and diverse spectrum of citizens and residents, including churches, nonprofits, senior citizen programs, students, veterans, re-entry, transitional, and disabled populations. Over 400 seniors and students from the Greater Newark area attended the two performances. During “talkback” sessions following the shows, audience members provided valuable insights, including support of a permanent repertory theater for the City of Newark.
The Raisin cast consists of employees and alumni of RUN, Essex County College, St. Benedict’s Prep, and Orange High school—among them teachers; a lawyer; a historian; a former Newark Debate Academy orator; and child actor, Isaiah Odumuko. In their backgrounds and careers, the actors and crew members represent Newark’s landscape with widely diverse backgrounds, a love of Newark, a commitment to social justice, and a deep appreciation of the theater and its importance in community life.