By the time of her death at age thirty-four, Lorraine Hansberry had created two electrifying masterpieces of the American theater. With A Raisin in the Sun she gave this country its most movingly authentic portrayal of black family life in the inner city. Barely five years later, with The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, Hansberry gave us an unforgettable portrait of a man struggling wit his individual fate in an age of racial and social injustice. These two plays remain milestones in the American theater, remarkable not only for their historical value but for their continual ability to engage the imagination and heart. With an Introduction by Robert Nemiroff.
Lorraine Hansberry, at twenty-nine, became the youngest American, the fifth woman, and the first black playwright to win the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for the Best Play of the Year. Her A Raisin in the Sun has since been published and produced in some 30 countries, while her film adaptation was nominated by the New York critics for the Best Screenplay and received a Cannes Film Festival Award. At thirty-four, during the run of her second play, The Sign in Sidney Brusteins Window, Lorraine Hansberry died of cancer. In the years since her death, her stature has continued to grow. To Be Young, Gifted and Black, a dramatic portrait of the playwright in her own words, was the longest-running Off-Broadway drama of 1969, and has been recorded, filmed, and published in expanded book form, and has toured an unprecedented forty states and two hundred colleges. In 1986, following the stage production of the 25th anniversary of A Raisin in the Sun by the Roundabout Theatre in New York City, the play was widely acclaimed as in the foremost ranks of American classics. In 1990, the PBS American Playhouse TV adaptation of the 25th-anniversary version had one of the highest viewing audiences in PBS history. Les Blancs, her last playposthumously performed on Broadway and recently in prominent regional theatershas been hailed by a number of critics as her best.