YOUR NAME: La Marr Taylor
YOUR CHARACTER’S NAME: Lena Younger (“Mama”)
CHARACTER TRAITS: Housemaid, hardworking, proud, nurturing, a devout Christian, family oriented, woman of traditional values, nostalgic
FAVORITE LINE: Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most? When they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well that ain’t the time at all. It’s when he’s at his lowest and can’t believe in hisself ‘cause the world done whipped him so! When you starts measuring somebody, measure him right, child, measure him right. Act 3 sc1
Had you read or seen the play before this production and if so can you share your first experience/reaction after reading/seeing the play?
The first time I laid eyes on A Raisin in the Sun was in high school. We read the play as we wrapped up our poetry unit with “A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes. It is the first black play I’d read. We also got to see the video of the original cast which was a great bonus. I remember feeling angry, sad, and happy as I watched it. I was not a fan of Mr. Linder or the community he represented. I think the whole class was upset with him. Because I went to an integrated high school, I assumed we were past racism. Everyone socialized with everyone. We may have had our preference but being segregated wasn’t the norm for me. And as for poverty, my answer was to just go and get a good job after college. It wasn’t until I long graduated that I realized that poverty and race are still present in American life.
Why did you become interested in this production?
I became interested in this production because I knew I had to be a part of a pivotal play in the history of American Black Theatre. What is so striking to me is that A Raisin in the Sun portrays struggles against prejudice and hardship which is just as meaningful today as it was when it was created. A family trying to overcome poverty and live out their dreams is something that I can definitely relate to.
Do you share any similarities with the character you are portraying?
I do happen to see a little of Mama in myself. I am a strong, opinionated women who also aims to put the needs of my family first. Mama’s goal is to buy a house that she can one day leave to her family. I am a single parent who often has to make sacrifices and make certain choices for the betterment of my child. I have my own dreams and goals for my own life, but some dreams have to change or be put on hold in order to incorporate my child and her personal desires.
This show takes on the themes of racial intolerance, the discovery of one’s culture and sacrificing for family – all themes that are still relevant in today’s world. How are you preparing to tackle these themes and what message do you want to portray to audiences?
I want to be able to allow the writing to speak to the audience on such a level that displays its true rawness. My desire is for the intensity to strike an emotional chord, leaving audience members furious, more aware, or with some reaction to the fact that these themes are still relevant today. In order to give a true depiction of what it is like in the inner-city of Chicago during The Civil Rights Movement, research needs to be done on my part. I feel that it is important to research and look up the historical events during the era so that I have a better understanding of how blacks truly struggled with racial injustice during that time. Yes, similar injustices are still infiltrated today; this can be useful when taking the emotion from my personal moments and relating it to Mama, but being black during the 1960s is a different life experience. My job is to be authentic and know exactly what and why “Mama” says what she says so it is clear in my motive and intention that are revealed in the choices I make. Choices have to come from an honest place.