Second-year Languages student Keziah Prescod talks about their love of theatre and directorial debut in Cambridge, and why A Raisin the Sun is a must-see play during Black History Month.
How and why did you get into theatre?
We can thank the ADHD for that! I’ve always been very talkative and eager to run around so when I was younger, I tried a few performing arts classes and found that it was so exciting to put myself in the shoes of characters who have totally different life experiences. After a while, I was lucky to find a second family through the great community at Stagecoach Edgbaston.
As I’ve grown up and thought more about identity, I’ve experimented with how theatre can be used to explore stories of the marginalised that are often disregarded, bridging the gap between entertainment and education, accessing an array of audiences.
I’ve brought this enthusiasm for diverse stories to the world of Cambridge Theatre, now moving more towards directing as I have found love for composing an entire vision and reimagining of a piece; that’s where Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun comes in. In all the work that I will continue to do, I will focus on championing the voices of those who are too often silenced.
Why A Raisin in the Sun?
There are so many reasons why I felt that this play needed to be staged! Lorraine Hansberry’s writing was inspired by the poetry of Langston Hughes, particularly ‘Harlem’, in which the poet asks what happens to a raisin in the sun. I paused and asked myself the same question. Why does what happens to a raisin in the sun matter for the content of the play?
It’s all about a black family who struggle to navigate their place and their identities in white America. Fractures appear and relationships shift as they contend with an offer from their new neighbour at the ‘Clybourne Park Improvement Association’ to stay away from their exclusively white community. Their decision to remain in their current house or defy the threat of Mr Lindner will change the course of their family’s lives for generations.
In reading the play, I found an answer to Hughes’ question; in the same way that a raisin would continue to get blacker and tougher under the force of the sun, the Younger family become more obvious in their black heritage due to the insidious racism they experience.
Our run is the only UK performances of A Raisin in the Sun that we are aware of for the year ahead (so no pressure!!), I wouldn’t miss it if I were you …
What do you hope audiences will take away from the play?
The story of the Younger family is not distant from the world we inhabit. Although the play is rooted in 1950s’ America, the fraying of family relationships under social pressures is timeless. I won’t spoil the ending but it is a cruel reminder that oppression is not limited to stories told onstage.
How else will you celebrate Black History Month?
I’m really happy to see that there is more and more on offer across the University every year! As well as supporting anything organised by Trinity’s Black History Month Society, I’ll be attending the Black Creatives Festival, which is a new initiative showcasing the passion and talent of Cambridge creators with an Afro-Caribbean heritage. This October will be a fantastic opportunity to learn about different experiences of black people around the University.
What could Trinity do to attract more black and mixed heritage students to the College?
Routinely reaching out to schools and other social hubs to educate BME students on life at Trinity while continuing to build an environment of connection and acceptance in College. I think Trinity is often not seen as a place that BME students can see themselves at, so welcoming as many people into College will certainly help.
Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club’s production of A Raisin in the Sun runs 10-14 October, 7:45pm, at the ADC Theatre.