The national tour of The Lorraine Hansberry Initiative’s To Sit A While art exhibit will be on display in Gloria Molina Grand Park for nearly three weeks. Hansberry was a playwright, journalist and activist whose play A Raisin in the Sun was the first play written by a Black woman to be produced on Broadway. The iconic production was revived on Broadway in 2004 and 2014. To Sit A While, by sculpture artist Alison Saar, features the figure of Hansberry surrounded by five bronze chairs, each representing a different aspect of her life and work. The life-size chairs are an invitation to the public to do just that: to sit with her and think. The sculpture will be permanently installed on the South Side of Chicago, Hansberry’s childhood home, in 2024. The Hansberry Initiative also encompasses a $2.5 million endowed fund for women and non-binary writers of color enrolled in graduate dramatic writing programs. The writers receive $25,000 a year to help alleviate their burden of living expenses and ensure that they have protected time to actually write and can take full advantage of their education.
This installation honors the great American playwright Lorraine Hansberry, author of A Raisin in the Sun, the first play by a Black woman to be produced on Broadway (1959). The title comes from a line in that play, “Never be afraid to sit a while and think.” In 2022, more Black and more female writers were produced on Broadway than ever before. The chairs represent Hansberry’s work as a playwright, journalist, and civil rights activist for Black, female and queer voices. The Lorraine Hansberry Initiative is comprised of a nationwide tour of the sculpture, and a unique scholarship that will cover the living expenses of female and non-binary writers of color with financial need in graduate school. The Hansberry Initiative is a project created by The Lillys, an organization dedicated to women in theater.
WORKSHOPS AND ACTIVATIONS
Sculpture Unveiling | June 14, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Meet the initiative. Local theater partners and collaborators include Center Theatre Group, WACO Theater Center and Support Black Theatre. WACO Theater Center will also feature a rendition of “To Be Young Gifted and Black” arranged by Adrian Dunn
All-Ages Movement & Writing Workshop | June 20 & 27, 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Move and play. Co-taught by Center Theatre Group teaching artists, Estela Garcia & Aja Houston, this family-friendly workshop invites participants to explore their own creativity. The workshop will include elements of dance and poetry while interacting with the sculpture and moving into a one-word storytelling exercise.
Site-Specific Devised Theater Workshop | June 25th , 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Devise and perform with Center Theatre Group teaching artists Estela Garcia & Aja Houston. Participants will explore the sculpture and then walk to the Music Center Annex to develop a collaborative movement-based piece. Finally, participants will return to the park for an informal presentation of their piece viewed by park goers.