Time Travel Theatre Talk: Studs Terkel talks with Lorraine Hansberry

Here’s another in my series of happy discoveries whilst browsing around the endless charity shop that is the internet.

Louis “Studs” Terkel (1912-2008) was a broadcasting institution – author-radio host-actor-activist and Chicago icon.

In his 45 years on radio station WFMT, Terkel interviewed the most interesting people of the 20th century, in his own frank, direct, authentic style.

While rummaging in the wonderful archive of his 2000-plus recordings recently, I came across this interview with notable writer Lorraine Hansberry, the creator of the ground-breaking play A RAISIN IN THE SUN.

A RAISIN IN THE SUN, which highlights the lives of Black Americans living under racial segregation in Chicago, opened on March 11, 1959 (after touring), becoming the first play by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway. The play ran a total of 530 performances on Broadway. The 29-year-old author became the youngest American playwright (and only the fifth woman) to receive the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. The play was also nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play, among the four Tony Awards that the play was nominated for in 1960. The play was translated into 35 languages and was being performed all over the world over the next two years.

Sidney Poitier, the star of the play, and the rest of the original cast repeated their roles in the film adaptation of the play in the Columbia Pictures production of 1961.

A later, musical version of the play, RAISIN, opened on Broadway in 1973 and ran for 847 performances

Tragically, Hansberry died of pancreatic cancer aged just 34 , in 1965.

Thanks to the Studs Terkel Archive we can listen to Hansberry in her own words, just a couple of months after the Broadways opening of RAISIN.

First broadcast on May 12th, 1959, their discussion is wide-ranging and always fascinating. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Find the interview here