A Raisin in the Sun
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).
A collection of excellent individual performances coalesces into a symphonic ensemble, confidently combing the depth of Hansberry’s rich play.
THE STAR LEDGER
The Two River Theater production of A Raisin in the Sun takes the modern masterpiece to new heights.
Director Carl Cofield finds the music, the dance, the celebration, and the outright laughs.
ASBURY PARK PRESS
As excellent a production of A Raisin in the Sun as you will ever see.
powerful production… vividly embodied
NEW JERSEY MONTHLY
MEET THE ARTISTS
Jasmine Batchelor 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, 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 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 Dickinson (TOMMY) is so happy to be back at TRT! Previous productions include A Raisin in The Sun and Seven Guitars. Broadway: the Tony Award Winning Play, Clybourne Park, and Tony Nominated Play, You Can’t Take It With You; Recent Off-Broadway credits include: Lessons In Survival:1971 at The Vineyard Theater and Cullud Wattah at The Public Theater. She has also performed at Lincoln Center, Signature Theater, Playwrights Horizons and The Atlantic; Film & TV credits: I Origins, The Good Wife, Feed the Beast, New Amsterdam and recurring roles on the Showtime drama, The CHI and ABC’s, For Life.
Brandon J. Dirden
Brandon J. Dirden is truly grateful to be returning to Red Bank. Wine in the Wilderness marks his fourth time directing for Two River Theater. Previously, Brandon made his directorial debut with August Wilson’s Seven Guitars and followed that up with King Hedley II and last season’s Radio Golf. As an actor, he has been seen in the Two River Theater acclaimed productions of Topdog Underdog, Jitney, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, the world premiere of Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine by Ruben Santiago Hudson and A Raisin in the Sun. Brandon most recently appeared on Broadway starring in the Tony Award-winning production of Take Me Out and Skeleton Crew for which he received a Drama Desk nomination. He also appeared on Broadway as Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Tony Award-winning production of All the Way, with Bryan Cranston, as ‘Booster’; the Tony Award-winning revival of August Wilson’s Jitney; Clybourne Park; Enron; and Prelude to a Kiss. Off-Broadway, he has appeared in The Piano Lesson, for which he won Obie, Theatre World and AUDELCO awards; The First Breeze of Summer and Day of Absence at Signature Theatre; Detroit ’67 at the Public Theater and Classical Theatre of Harlem; Peter and the Starcatcher at New York Theatre Workshop and as ‘Brutus’ in TFANA’s production of Juilius Caesar. On screen he has appeared in The Good Wife, For Life, Evil, The Big C, Public Morals, Mainifest, The Get Down, The Accidental Wolf, Blue Bloods, The Quad, the FX miniseries Mrs. America and four seasons of FX’s The Americans as Agent Dennis Aderholt. Brandon is an Associate Arts Professor on the faculty of Tisch Grad Acting at NYU; a frequent volunteer at the 52nd Street Project; and a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association.
Willie Dirden 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 is thrilled to be appearing again at Two River, where he was previously seen in A Raisin in the Sun and Seven Guitars. Previous shows include Detroit ’67 (Playmakers Rep); The Mountaintop (Northern Stage); Father Comes Home from the Wars (American Repertory Theatre); A Raisin in the Sun (Barrymore Theatre, Broadway); The Raisin Cycle: Clybourne Park & Beneatha’s Place (Baltimore Centerstage); Hurt Village (Signature); Fences (Virginia Stage); The Piano Lesson (Yale Rep); Bike Wreck (Ensemble Studio Theatre); 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 includes: Manifest, The Night Of, Shades of Blues, The Good Fight, Unforgettable, Forever, The Rosa Parks Story, and A Raisin in the Sun “Revisited.” Film credits include Roxanne Roxanne; Complete Unknown; Twelve; Newlyweeds; Lillian; and his voice is featured in the McGraw-Hill’s PodClass GRE Vocabulary Study Guide. Mr. Hudson is the 2003 KC/ACTF Irene Ryan Best Actor Award winner (Region IV) and is a graduate of Alabama State University and the Brown University/Trinity Repertory Consortium. Charlie would like to thank God for this opportunity and his loving family for their support.
Brenda Pressley began her New York theatrical career in And Still I Rise written and directed by Maya Angelou. She later enjoyed success on Broadway in the original cast of Dreamgirls directed by Michael Bennett and as Grizabella in the long running hit Cats. More recently, Ms Pressley appeared on Broadway opposite Linda Lavin in The Lyons and with Mercedes Ruehl in The American Plan.
Brenda’s many Off Broadway appearances include Fran’s Bed opposite Mia Farrow, the world premiere of the award winning Audible production of the one woman show Proof of Love by Chisa Hutchinson, Surely, Goodness and Mercy, Almost Home, The First Breeze of Summer, Mom, How Did You Meet the Beatles?, Seven Guitars, Marvin’s Room, Blues In The Night and And The World Goes ‘Round-The Songs of Kander and Ebb for which she received the Outer Critics Circle Award.
Regionally, Brenda starred in Alice Childress’ Trouble in Mind and In This House at the Two River Theatre Company and in the world premiere of The Old Settler at the McCarter Theatre and again at The Freedom Theatre. This performance garnered the Barrymore Award for Best Actress. Additional productions include Jar The Floor at Syracuse Stage and Blues for An Alabama Sky at the Old Globe and Cincinnati Playhouse, and the world premiere of Black Odyssey at the Denver Center Theatre Company. Brenda starred in To Be Young Gifted and Black at The Kennedy Center.
On television Ms Pressley starred opposite Oprah Winfrey in the ABC series Brewster Place. Other television appearances include guest starring and recurring roles on The Path, The Good Wife, Almost Family, The Mysteries of Laura, Body of Proof, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Headlines, New York Undercover, Educating Matt Waters, HBO Life Stories, Daddy’s Girl, Here and Now, Ghostwriter, All My Children, Loving and One Life To Live.
She has been featured in numerous national commercials.
Brenda appeared in the films Before/During/After, Detachment opposite Adrien Brody, Third Street Blackout, 16 Blocks starring Bruce Willis and Mos Def and directed by Richard Donner, Cradle Will Rock written and directed by Tim Robbins, Twisted and It Could Happen To You.
David Joel Rivera
David Joel Rivera 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 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 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 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 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 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 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) has designed lighting for Broadway (Trouble in Mind), Off-Broadway, and regional theatres such as American Conservatory Theatre, Arena Stage, Berkeley Repertory, Seattle Repertory, St. Louis Black Repertory, Alliance, Goodman, Steppenwolf, Baltimore Center Stage, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, New Federal Theatre, Mark Taper, Yale Repertory, Actors Theatre of Louisville, People’s Light, and Playmakers Repertory.
As a scholar, she is the editor of seven anthologies focusing on women both nationally and internationally, including Selected Plays: Alice Childress. She is a senior editor of the Routledge Companion to African American Theatre and Performance.
Kathy has traveled to nearly fifty countries as both designer and lecturer and is the recipient of numerous research and design awards, including Ford Foundation, Fulbright, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and an NAACP Image Award. She received the 2021 United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) Distinguished Achievement Award for both Education and Lighting Design.
In 1995, Kathy co-curated ONSTAGE: A Century of African American Stage Design at New York’s Lincoln Center. In 2016 she served as theatre consultant for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture inaugural exhibition Taking the Stage.
In 2007 she was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre. She received her BFA from Howard University and her M.F.A. from the University of Michigan.
Kathy is faculty Emerita at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Karin Graybash 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, TheatreWorks, and the Alliance. 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 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 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 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, Mary Jane (NYTW) written by Amy Herzog and upcoming The Winter’s Tale (TFANA) and Adrienne Kennedy’s new play He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box (TFANA).
Production Stage Manager
Lloyd Davis, Jr.
Lloyd Davis, Jr. 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.