- Columbus City Schools
After a Decade without a Drama Teacher, Africentric Opens the Curtain for their First Theater Performance with A Raisin in the Sun
November 30, 2022 -- For the first time, Columbus Africentric Early College PreK-12 (CAEC) is putting on a theater performance. The Nubian Thespian Group performs A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry this Thursday and Friday.
“This is the first play Africentric has ever put on,” said Tyrell Reggins, CAEC drama teacher and professional actor. “We’ve never had a play of this caliber at this school. So, I’m proud to say that this is the inaugural group of kids to put on a play.”
After a decade-long absence, Reggins was brought in to revive the school’s drama program, and he’s looking forward to bringing theater back to the stage. The Nubian Thespian’s star-cast consists of 12th grader Jude Bush (Walter), 5th grader Nate Brown-Simms (Travis), and 10th graders Dionna Hargrove (Mama), Zaria Hooker (Ruth), and Darrielle Whiting (Beneatha).
“I think everyone should come see the play – not only because it is the first play at Africentric,” Hooker said. “But because it is going to show a lot of struggles, as well as be insightful, and entertaining with a lot of plot twists.”
A Raisin in the Sun is an award-winning drama that appeared on Broadway in 1959. It highlights the struggles of the Youngers, a working-class black family living in Chicago during the 1950s. The family receives a $10,000 check and faces many challenges while debating how to spend it.
“Even though this play takes place in the 1950s, it is still relevant today,” Hooker said. “Especially when it comes to the struggles of black people and women.”
Within the dramatic play, there are still moments of comedy, and Bush looks forward to the audience laughing when they experience these scenes.
“I have two favorite scenes,” Bush said. “One is about eggs – Walter does not like eggs. The other is when my ‘wife’ shouts at me and throws a coat at me out of frustration.”
The actors had a blast putting the production together and enjoyed their time together on and off the stage. They painted the backdrop and created lasting memories with a reel of acting bloopers and line fumbles.
Each cast member put in months of hard work and preparation to bring the show to life. Rehearsal consisted of a Monday through Saturday schedule for a couple of hours daily. Lines were also diligently practiced at home, as every student was equally determined and devoted to the show.
“There’s a lot of depth that goes into acting,” Hooker said. “Before I did this, I just thought you winged it. But no, you have to get to know your character as if they are a real person that actually exists. You have to think about the struggles, challenges, conflicts, and the storyline, or else it won’t be as realistic. That’s why we use Method acting, so we can understand the character more and show it to the audience.”
The students give all the successful show credit to their drama teacher and say if it weren’t for Reggins, they wouldn’t have such a wonderful opportunity.
“I’m just trying my best even though my bank account is saying no,” Reggins lightheartedly laughed. “I’m a Columbus City School grad from East High School. Coming back to the District brings back some nostalgia. It is rewarding being able to contribute to the community and give the kids the same theater experience I had.”
To get ready for performance night, students held a dress rehearsal for their classmates. And now they can’t wait to perform for the rest of the community.
“I hope it attracts a lot of people that want to get into acting and see the other opportunities we have at this school,” Bush said.
“Africentric isn’t just sports, we reach into everything,” Hargrove said.
After seeing the show, all the cast members hope the audience will take away the following important life lesson.
“Hopefully, this play will help people understand just how important it is to have communication in your family,” Whiting said. “Be able to understand and be there for each other even during the toughest times of your life.”
Catch the show on December 1 and 2 at 6:30 p.m. at CAEC. Tickets are $5 each and can be purchased at the door.