“It’s a peculiar thing isn’t it…friendship.”
Peculiar indeed, especially at the intersection of queerness and Blackness. Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj and Adam Mace’s ‘Sweet Lorraine’ offers a snapshot into the friendship of the great American writer James Baldwin and the historically brilliant playwright Lorraine Hansberry. The play runs until August 25th at Teatro SEA and Teatro LaTea Theatres at The Clemente Velez Cultural Center.
Set to the backdrop of the 1960’s and Lyndon B Johnson’s New Deal, This powerfully nostalgic piece— played by Valisia LeKae (Motown the Musical, The Book of Mormon) as Lorraine Hansberry and Christopher Augustin (Dreamgirls, Mother Emmanuel) as James Baldwin—makes you wish you were a fly on the wall during Baldwin and Hansberry’s conversational debates. Hansberry, a native of Chicago, and heavy weight among American playwrights, died of Pancreatic Cancer in 1965 at the age of 34. Hansberry’s wildly successful “Raisin In The Sun” was the first play written by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway. In “Sweet Lorraine,” beautiful monologues run parallel to F-bombs that explode into raucous laughter as the two reconcile with their own pasts, challenge the present, and seek to “nurture generations [yet] unborn.” Hansberry, struggling to control her own narrative as a Black woman and Black writer, and Baldwin working tirelessly to offer language to the plights of Black people in America, the pair— ‘Sweet Lorraine’ demonstrates—was akin to fiery siblings whose brilliance and wit were only matched by one another.
Entranced by the feel of old Harlem charm, chain smoking, and the Black Elite, one can only wish they were a fly on the wall during this time period in history. Sharing in the laughs, tears, and flows of two mega watt ancestors at the height of their brilliance. This piece, a look into the thunderstorm that brewed within the wildly passionate and intensely intellectual mind. A story mixed with Black Love, hope, and the realization of triumphs stolen by time.
“Have you thought about your legacy sister?”
“Sweet Lorraine” will force you to think about your own friendships and the ways in which we hold space for the challenges, vulnerability, and natural conflict that turns the most rewarding connections into life long sister and brotherhood. A must see.
For more information about Sweet Lorraine, Rebel Theater Company, and Rave Theater Festival visit: www.SweetLorraineThePlay.com, www.RebelTheater.com, and www.RaveTheaterFestival.com. Follow the play on social media: Instagram @sweetlorraineplay and @rebeltheaterco and Facebook @SweetLorrainePlay and @RebelTheater.