YOUR NAME: MayTae Harge
YOUR CHARACTER’S NAME: Beneatha Younger
CHARACTER TRAITS: Beneatha is very strong-willed, smart, determined, outspoken, passionate, prideful, experimentally creative
FAVORITE LINE YOUR CHARACTER SAYS: “He said everybody ought to learn to sit down and hate each other with good Christian fellowship.”
I don’t particularly “like” this line, but it is SO applicable today it’s almost eerie.
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?
I first read the play in high school as part of my curriculum and then afterward we watched the movie as a class. I remember feeling conflicted about where my loyalties lie amongst the characters. There are a lot of strong opinions held by Walter, Beneatha, and Mama and I found that I can relate, agree AND disagree with all of them! I also remember listening to one particular classmate talk about how much she hated the play because, to her, it was just a bunch of miserable people complaining about their life circumstances instead of doing something to change it. I was one of three African-American students in my class, and upon hearing that, I told myself that this particular student probably felt this way because she couldn’t relate to it in the same way that WE could. Even to this day, but ESPECIALLY in that day and age, it was not so simple as just getting up and putting the effort in doing something to change your luck, because we DO do that, we DID do that. But they were fighting a system, almost an entity, that was designed to keep them at a disadvantage and those kinds of forces are extremely difficult and at times impossible to overcome.
Why did you become interested in this production?
I was interested in the play because it was such an iconic and classic piece of Afro-American literature. Diversity in the theatre is still an ongoing issue, and it’s something fiercely important to me. So anytime I get to perform with fellow artists of color I jump at the opportunity. As an African American, as an actress, as a lover of theatre, as a lover of culture and history… I’d be insane not to want to be a part of this!
Do you share any similarities with the character you are portraying?
I have a lot more in common with Beneatha than I care to admit sometimes. Beneatha and I both are fiercely, and dangerously, prideful almost to the point that it’s blinding. She and I also share a lot of the same passions. As a kid before I discovered theatre, I wanted to become a doctor. Had I not pursued theatre the way I have I’d most likely be well into my studies! I can also relate to Beneatha’s emotional ties to the motherland Africa! My father did an amazing job making sure I stayed educated and interested in my roots growing up, and African culture has always fascinated and excited me!
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?
The best way I think I can prepare is by doing a lot of research. I’ve been reading articles on what segregation and prejudice were like in the 50s– how much more intense and scary it was back then, compared to now. I also am pulling on my experience growing up with a big family under one roof. As a child, I had a lot of aunts, uncles, and cousins who lived with me. My parents and my grandma and a lot of the personalities in the play are so very similar to my family’s. The message I hope to portray would be; think new thoughts. Think scary thoughts, thoughts you think you’re not supposed to think because that is the only way to undermine a corrupt system. And yes it will be difficult, and you will have shortcomings, but when you do you have to stick together as a family. Your family is all that you’ve got, and if you’re not on each others team..? You already have enough people in the world fighting against you.