A RAISIN IN THE SUN
September 9, 2017 - October 8, 2017
By Lorraine Hansberry
Directed by Carl Cofield
JOAN AND ROBERT RECHNITZ THEATER
"A Radiant and powerful production. The performances are magnificent."
- New Jersey Monthly
Who gets the keys to the American dream?
Two River favorites Brandon J. Dirden (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Crystal A. Dickinson (Seven Guitars) and Brenda Pressley (Trouble in Mind) have long been part of Two River’s family of artists. Next season, they return to Red Bank to play Walter Lee, Ruth and Lena Younger in one of the greatest family dramas ever written, A Raisin in the Sun—the play that “changed American theater forever” (The New York Times).
Cast includes: Jasmine Batchelor, Andrew Binger, Nat DeWolf, Crystal A. Dickinson, Brandon J. Dirden, Willie Dirden, Charlie Hudson III, Brenda Pressley, David Joel Rivera, Owen Tabaka, York Walker
Approximate Run Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes, including one 15 minute intermission
Jasmine Batchelor (Beneatha Younger) is originally from the East Coast; born in Philadelphia and raised in Atlanta. After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from Ohio’s Wright State University, she toured with the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s educational troupe before heading off to continue graduate studies at The Juilliard School of Drama. Jasmine recently starred in the world-premiere adaptation of Toni Morrison’s novel Jazz at Baltimore Center Stage. Previous appearances include the Showtime series The Affair and the out-of-this-world digital series Miss Earth.
Andrew Binger (Moving Man), an actor and educator from Bloomfield, NJ, is thrilled to be making his Two River Theater debut. Notable credits include Brian in the world premiere of Love Ya Like a Sis at the Hudson Guild, Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird at the Forestburgh Playhouse, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in The Mountaintop at Villagers Theatre, and Sam in the world premiere of Down Neck by Pia Wilson. On the film side, Andrew starred as Chris in Conversations Centered Around Black Bodies which was recently selected for the Broadway International Film Festival. Other film credits include Delmar in Z’Lectrik, Jed in Why We Worry and Marcus in Underachievers, all slated for release in 2017. Andrew is a founding member and Company Manager for Yendor Theatre Company, Newark’s premiere theatre company, dedicated to works of social justice. He is also faculty member at the world-renowned Newark Boys Chorus School.
Nat DeWolf (Karl Lindner) is thrilled to be making his debut at Two River Theater. New York theater credits include Take Me Out (Broadway and The Public Theater), Antlia Pneumatica and Betty’s Summer Vacation (Playwrights Horizons). Regional theater: ART, Westport Country Playhouse, Huntington Theatre, Commonwealth Shakespeare, Pittsburgh Public, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Hartford TheaterWorks, Barrington Stage, Boise Contemporary Theater, Kitchen Theatre. He co-wrote and co-starred in the film Lisa Picard Is Famous. Recent film and television credits include A Most Violent Year, The Preppie Connection, We Are What We Are, Gotham, The Black List, Pan Am, Law & Order: SVU. He is a graduate of Boston Conservatory and A.R.T. Institute at Harvard University.
Crystal A. Dickinson
Crystal A. Dickinson (Ruth Younger), a New Jersey native, made her New Jersey debut at Two River Theater in August Wilson’s Seven Guitars. Broadway: You Can't Take It With You, Clybourne Park (Theater World Award). Playwrights Horizons: The Call, Clybourne Park; Signature Theatre: Funnyhouse of a Negro, The First Breeze of Summer; Lincoln Center: Broke-ology; Soho Rep: Born Bad; Negro Ensemble Company: Sundown Names and Night-gone Things; Atlantic Theater: Bottom of the World. Regional: Contemporary American Theater Festival, Baltimore Centerstage, 7 Stages, Georgia Shakespeare, Houston Shakespeare, Illinois Shakespeare, Synchronicity. Television: The Good Wife, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. Film: Collateral Beauty, This Is Where I Leave You, I Origins. Education: MFA University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and a proud volunteer at the 52nd Street Project.
Brandon J. Dirden
Walter Lee Younger
Brandon J. Dirden (Walter Lee Younger) has previously appeared at Two River in August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Jitney; in the world premiere of Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine; and in Topdog/Underdog, in which he starred opposite his brother Jason Dirden under the direction of the play’s author, Suzan-Lori Parks. An award-winning actor/director, he made his directing debut here with Wilson’s Seven Guitars. He is best known for portraying Agent Dennis Aderholt in the acclaimed FX series The Americans. A Morehouse College and University of Illinois graduate, he is also known for appearing on Broadway as Martin Luther King Jr. in the successful Tony Award-winning Broadway production of Robert Schenkkan’s All the Way opposite Bryan Cranston’s Lyndon B. Johnson. Other Broadway credits include August Wilson’s Jitney (2017 Tony Award for Best Revival), Prelude to a Kiss, Enron and Clybourne Park. In 2012 he was awarded an Obie and a Theatre World Award and was nominated for Drama League and Lucille Lortel Awards for his portrayal of Boy Willie in the Signature Theatre Company revival of August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. He has guest starred in TV series such as The Good Wife, The Big C, Blue Bloods, Public Morals, Braindead and Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down on Netflix. Brandon is married to actress Crystal Dickinson and currently lives in West Orange, NJ with their three-year-old son, Chase.
Willie Dirden (Bobo) is making his Two River debut in this production. He is a veteran of regional theater. His stage credits include Cementville (Kid Cayman), Lilies of the Field (Homer Smith), Waiting for Godot (Pozzo), Of Mice and Men (Crooks), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Cutler), Jitney (Becker), Two Trains Running (West), The Boys Next Door (Lucien), The Fantasticks (The Indian), Twelve Angry Men, A Hatful of Rain, Finian’s Rainbow, and The Manchurian Candidate. Willie’s film credits include Rough Riders, Arlington Road, The Rookie, and The M. C. Hammer Story.
Charlie Hudson III
Charlie Hudson III (Asagai) is thrilled to be appearing again on the Two River Theater stage, where he was previously seen in Seven Guitars. Charlie was last seen performing in Detroit ’67 at Playmakers Rep. Previous shows include The Mountaintop, Northern Stage; Father Comes Home from the Wars, ART; A Raisin in the Sun, Barrymore Theatre (Broadway); The Raisin Cycle: Clybourne Park & Beneatha’s Place, Baltimore Center Stage; Hurt Village, Signature; Fences, Virginia Stage; The Piano Lesson, Yale Rep; Bike Wreck, EST; White Women Street, Irish Rep; “Master Harold”…and the boys, Portland Stage; Fly, Crossroads and Vineyard Playhouse; A Raisin in the Sun, Richard III, A Christmas Carol, All the King’s Men, Cyrano de Bergerac, Trinity Rep; Hillary, New Georges; Old Comedy, Classic Stage; Mother Courage, Public Theater/NYSF; Sweet Bird of Youth, Williamstown; Romeo and Juliet, Bread Loaf Acting Ensemble; Julius Caesar, Topdog/Underdog, Brown/Trinity Consortium. TV: The Night Of (HBO), Shades of Blues (NBC), The Good Fight (CBS), Unforgettable (CBS), Forever (ABC), The Rosa Parks Story (CBS), and A Raisin in the Sun “Revisited” (PBS). Film credits include Roxanne Roxanne; Complete Unknown; Newlyweeds; Lillian; and his voice is featured in the McGraw-Hill's PodClass GRE Vocabulary Study Guide. He is the 2003 KC/ACTF Irene Ryan Best Actor Award winner (Region IV) and is MFA graduate of the Brown University/Trinity Repertory Consortium. Charlie would like to thank God for this opportunity and his loving family for their support.
Brenda Pressley (Lena Younger) Broadway: The Lyons; The American Plan; Cats; Dreamgirls (original company). Off-Broadway: The First Breeze of Summer; Mom, How Did You Meet the Beatles?; Seven Guitars; Fran’s Bed; Goodwill; Marvin's Room; And the World Goes ‘Round: The Songs of Kander and Ebb (Outer Critics Circle Award); Blues in the Night. Regional: Intimate Apparel (McCarter), Having Our Say (Long Wharf/Hartford),Trouble In Mind (Two River Theater), Black Odyssey (Denver Center Theatre Company), In This House (Two River Theater), Sundance Theatre Lab 2002, The Old Settler (Freedom Theatre, 2000 Barrymore Award, Best Actress; also world premiere at McCarter Theatre and Long Wharf); Blues for an Alabama Sky (Cincinnati Playhouse, The Old Globe); Jar the Floor (Syracuse Stage); A Raisin in the Sun (Ford’s Theatre); To Be Young, Gifted and Black (The Kennedy Center). Film: Third Street Blackout, Detachment, 16 Blocks, Cradle Will Rock (written and directed by Tim Robbins), Twisted, It Could Happen to You. Television: The Path, Body of Proof, Law & Order, Deadline, Law & Order: SVU, New York Undercover, Daddy’s Girl, Harambee!, Educating Matt Waters, HBO’s Lifestories, Brewster Place (with Oprah Winfrey).
David Joel Rivera
David Joel Rivera (Moving Man) has extensive training as an actor, bolstered by coaching in music and dance, and rounded out by numerous certifications in the craft of stage combat. Soon after relocating to New York City, David landed the “swing” position in the award-winning production of The Video Games at the Elektra Theatre. His credits include Hal in David Auburn’s Proof; Father in Six Characters in Search of an Author; Berger in Marvel Theatre’s Hair; and Southern Colorado Rep’s The Music Man as Oliver Hix. Stage combat proficiency won David horse-riding, torch-yielding, and sword-fighting roles at Ohio’s historic Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheater in Tecumseh. He hails from Syracuse, NY and received a B.F.A. in Musical Theater from Fredonia State University. Thanks to Jaclyn and to mom for their help in forging David’s prime philosophy that “nothing is impossible.”
Owen Tabaka (Travis Younger) is extremely proud and humbled to be making his acting debut at Two River Theater. Owen lives in Alexandria, Virginia with his family and has been dancing and performing with Strictly Rhythm Dance since the age of three. He is 10 years old, and is the 2015 Petite Mr. World Dance Champion and had the awesome opportunity to tap with Elmo on the HBO series Sesame Street in January. His passions include acting, singing, dancing, soccer, lacrosse and tapping with the Jam Youth Project. Owen would like to first thank God and his mom, dad, sister Nita, brother AJ, Nanny Grace and all of his friends for their love and support in helping him achieve his dreams. He also thanks director Carl Cofield for allowing him to enjoy this valuable experience. He wishes to thank his manager Jody Prusan, vocal coach Robert Marks, and his agent Nancy Carson without whom none of this would be possible. Owen dedicates his performances to his mom and dad who first instilled in him a love of performing and have stood by his side every single step of the way!
York Walker (George Murchison) is thrilled to make his Two River Theater debut with A Raisin in the Sun! Regional: The Mystery of Love and Sex (Mark Taper Forum); One Night in Miami (Denver Center for the Performing Arts); Napoli and A Christmas Carol (American Conservatory Theater); A Raisin in the Sun (California Shakespeare Theater); Let Bygones Be and Heist! (34th Annual Humana Festival); Dracula, A Christmas Carol and Important People (Actors Theatre of Louisville); As You Like It and Everything Is Ours (Chautauqua Theater Company); Hairspray (Gateway Playhouse). International: The House of Bernarda Alba (Moscow Art Theatre). Training: MFA, American Conservatory Theater.
Lorraine Hansberry (Playwright) When Lorraine Hansberry’s (1930-1965) A Raisin in the Sun appeared on Broadway in 1959, the artist became at 29 the youngest American playwright, the fifth woman, and the only African American to date to win the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play of the Year. The play represented a landmark. In its authentic depiction of Black American life, and the vivid demonstration of so gifted a creator, cast, and director, it made it impossible for the American stage to ignore African American creativity and subject matter thereafter. In 1961, the film version won a special award at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for a Writers Guild Award for Hansberry’s screenplay. In 1965, Lorraine Hansberry died of cancer at age 34. As if prescient, in the six years she had between the triumph of her first play and her death, she was extraordinarily prolific. Her second play to be produced on Broadway, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, was in its early run, to mixed reviews, when Hansberry died; the curtain came down on that date. To Be Young, Gifted and Black, an autobiographical portrait in her own words adapted by her former husband and literary executor Robert Nemiroff, was posthumously produced in 1969 and toured across the country. In 1970, Les Blancs, her play about the inevitability of struggle between colonizers and colonized in Africa, and the impending crisis that would surely grow out of it, ran on Broadway to critical acclaim. During her career as a playwright, Hansberry wrote many articles and essays on literary criticism, racism, sexism, homophobia, world peace and other social and political issues. At her death, she left behind file cabinets holding her public and private correspondence, speeches and journals, and various manuscripts in several genres: plays for stage and screen, essays, poetry, and an almost complete novel. Lorraine Hansberry Trust
Carl Cofield (Director) is a New York-based director and actor. He directed the award-winning world premiere of One Night In Miami (Huffington Post Best of L.A. 2013, NAACP, Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle and others) for Rogue Machine Theatre and the Denver Center Theatre, for which he received the Los Angeles NAACP Award for Best Director; Henry IV Part 2 for Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Disgraced for Denver Center; The Mountaintop for Cleveland Play House. NYC directing credits include: the 50th anniversary of Dutchman for the Classical Theatre of Harlem/National Black Theatre (AUDELCO nomination Best Director); The Tempest, Macbeth for Classical Theatre of Harlem (AUDELCO nomination for Best Director); The Balcony (The New School); Better Than Yellow for 48 Hours in Harlem; The Seven by Will Power at the Connelly Theatre; A Midsummer Night’s Dream for NYU; 1001 for Columbia University. He assisted Molly Smith on the world premiere of Camp David by Lawrence Wright at Arena Stage. He directed a reading of Camp David for President and First Lady Carter at the Carter Center retreat in Vail, Colorado. He also assisted Kent Gash on Langston in Harlem at Urban Stages. As an actor, his work has been seen at Manhattan Theatre Club (Ruined), Berkeley Rep, Alliance, Arena Stage, Shakespeare Theatre, Intiman, Actors Theater of Louisville, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Milwaukee Rep, Alabama Shakespeare, McCarter, The Acting Company, Studio Theatre and many others. Teaching: New York University and The New School. Education: MFA, Columbia. Carlcofield.com
Christopher & Justin Swader
Christopher & Justin Swader (Scenic Designers) Selected NY credits include: The Three Musketeers, Fit for a Queen, Macbeth, The Tempest, Dutchman (Classical Theatre of Harlem), The Boy Who Danced on Air (Abingdon Theatre Company), 3/Fifths (3LD), Campfire (Lincoln Center Education/Trusty Sidekick Theater Company), Heather Henson's Crane: On Earth, In Sky. Past collaborations with: Luna Stage, La MaMa, Ars Nova, Park Avenue Armory, Manhattan School of Music, National Black Theatre, The New School for Drama, HERE Arts Center, Shadowland Stages, Fairleigh Dickinson University, The Orchard Project, Emerson String Quartet, SpeakEasy Stage Company, ArtsEmerson, Company One. American Theatre Wing Henry Hewes Design Award nomination. Finalist in the 2017 World Stage Design Exhibition. Upcoming: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Speakeasy Stage Company, Boston), Annie (John W. Engeman Theater). Graduates of Ball State University. www.cjswaderdesign.com
Elivia Bovenzi (Costume Designer) most recently designed The Birds at Barrington Stage Company in the Berkshires. Also for BSC: peerless and Kunstler, which originally made its Off-Broadway debut at 59E59. She also has designed extensively for the NYC-based company, New York Shakespeare Exchange. Her credits at NYSX include Much Ado About Nothing, The Rape of Lucrece (world-premiere adaptation), Hamlet, and Titus Andronicus. She was an assistant costume designer for the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof, and for MTC’s The Father and Incognito. Other assistant credits: Plenty (Public Theater); War Paint (Goodman Theatre); Kiss Me, Kate (Hartford Stage); and My Heart Is in the East (La MaMa). MFA: Yale, where her credits include An Accidental Death of an Anarchist (Yale Rep/Berkeley Rep), Cloud Nine and Richard II. www.eliviabovenzi.com
Kathy A. Perkins
Kathy A. Perkins (Lighting Designer) is excited to be making her debut at Two River. She has designed both nationally and internationally including Switzerland and South Africa. In New York, she has designed for New Federal Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club and in such venues as Carnegie Hall and Brooklyn Academy of Music. Regionally, Kathy has designed for Goodman Theatre, Arena Stage, Steppenwolf, Alliance Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Berkeley Repertory, Actors Theatre of Louisville, St. Louis Black Repertory, American Conservatory Theater, Indiana Repertory, Seattle Repertory, Congo Square, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Writers Theatre and Playmakers Repertory Company. She is the editor/co-editor of six anthologies focusing on African/African Diaspora women. A graduate of Howard University and the Univ. of Michigan, Kathy is Professor of Theatre at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Karin Graybash (Sound Designer) has created numerous sound designs for regional theater and Off-Broadway, including: Hartford Stage, Long Wharf, Berkeley Rep, Dallas Theater Center, Yale Rep, McCarter, Arena Stage, Portland Stage, Folger Theatre, People’s Light, and the Alliance. Her conceptual sound design for Popsicle’s Departure was also produced internationally. Her work has been nominated for the Helen Hayes Awards and she is a recipient of the Bay Area Theatre Critics Award for her sound design of Polk County at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Karin was the original live sound consultant for the multi-media production Freedom Rising at the National Constitution Center. Many of her soundscapes can be heard at The Franklin Institute’s exhibit entitled Your Brain. Karin also holds the position of Sound Supervisor for the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.
Valerie Gladstone (Wigs Designer) is honored to be back at Two River Theater. Her Broadway credit highlights include Mothers and Sons, The Seagull with Kristin Scott Thomas, Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, and Thurgood with Laurence Fishburne. Off-Broadway: stop. reset., The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, First Breeze of Summer at the Signature Theatre; Having Our Say at McCarter Theatre; A Christmas Carol, A Raisin in the Sun/Clybourne Park at Dallas Theater Center. Film and television credit highlights include The Deuce, Maggie’s Plan, Fading Gigolo, The Black List, Madam Secretary, Person of Interest, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Normal Heart, and Black Swan. In her latest venture, she is the artist behind Brooklyn Dollworks, proprietors of art dolls.
Jack Doulin + Sharky
Jack Doulin + Sharky (Casting) Jack has been the Casting Director at New York Theatre Workshop since 2000. Productions there include: Peter and the Starcatcher, Homebody/Kabul, Far Away, A Number, Hedda Gabler, The Misanthrope, and The Little Foxes. Other NYC highlights include two notable productions of Uncle Vanya: André Gregory’s production with Julianne Moore and Wallace Shawn (filmed by Louis Malle as Vanya on 42nd Street), and Annie Baker’s adaptation with Reed Birney, Maria Dizzia, and Michael Shannon directed by Sam Gold. For SoHo Rep: Blasted, A Public Reading...Disney, Marie Antoinette. Film: New Orleans, Mon Amour directed by Michael Almereyda and Jonathan Demme’s A Master Builder and the forthcoming What the Night Can Do. Sharky, also known as Taylor Williams, serves as the Casting Associate at New York Theatre Workshop. Together they have cast: Love and Information (NYTW), Oklahoma! (Bard SummerScape), Scenes from a Marriage (NYTW), You Got Older (P73), City of Conversation (Arena Stage), An Octoroon (Soho Rep and TFANA), Red Speedo (NTYW), Hadestown (NYTW), Othello (NYTW) directed by Sam Gold, and the upcoming Mary Jane (NYTW) written by Amy Herzog.
Lloyd Davis, Jr.
Production Stage Manager
Lloyd Davis, Jr. (Production Stage Manager) Favorite credits include: Broadway: Fela!, Joseph Papp’s Shakespeare on Broadway directed by Estelle Parsons, and A Streetcar Named Desire. Off-Broadway and Regional: Resident Stage Manager for The American Place Theatre for three years, the 40th anniversary production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Collected Stories and Mrs. Klein (all with Uta Hagen), The Waverly Gallery with Eileen Heckart, Edward Albee’s Occupant with Mercedes Ruehl, Sam Shepard’s States of Shock with John Malkovich, Tiny Alice with Richard Thomas, Sweeney Todd with Christine Baranski and Brian Stokes Mitchell, King Lear with Stacy Keach, and Ghosts with Jane Alexander. Tours: Mrs. Klein, Tommy, The Wiz with Stephanie Mills, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and the international tours of Undisputed Truth with Mike Tyson and Fela!. Lloyd was recognized by the NYC Board of Education and Pace University’s Promise of Learning for Excellence in Arts Education for his work with the NYC Public School Repertory Company.