From the fabric of the black family to inequalities in housing, Lorraine Hansberry’s iconic play, “A Raisin in the Sun” is tackling issues still relevant today.
Clark Nesbitt, a guest director at Greenwood Community Theatre for this stage production opening in February, said he is looking for black men and women to audition who will bring genuineness to the roles of the Younger family and other characters in the cast.
Auditions are at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 28 and 29 at GCT, 110 Main St. in Greenwood.
Casting is for black males ages 10 and older and black females ages 18 and older and one white male who looks to be between the ages of 40 and 60.
“I’m looking for people who are authentic for themselves first,” Nesbitt said. “Sometimes, undiscovered talent is the best talent. I encourage people to audition who have a genuine interest. I’m not necessarily looking for people who fit descriptions of characters they might have seen in a movie. I’m looking for people willing to commit and rehearse who have a love for theater and performing. Even the small roles are great roles.”
Nesbitt, who is making his directorial debut at GCT with this show, recommends checking out the following for more on characters and roles available and auditions:
All audition materials will be provided and those auditioning will be asked to read from the script. No acting experience is required. Positions are also available for the backstage crew and production team.
GCT is also seeking a diverse group of actors for roles in another show for 2020, “The Marvelous Wonderettes.” Auditions for that show are at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 7 and 10 at the Arts Center at the Federal Building, next door to GCT.
Nesbitt acknowledges people of color can be under-represented in theater, but he said theaters and communities should do works by and about people of color on “a consistent basis” to more accurately reflect what a community looks like as a whole.
“The community, the theater and cultures are becoming more diverse,” Nesbitt said. “But, what appeals to one group might not appeal to another. People across the board have a tendency to navigate toward what is most like them.
“I say this as a black actor, in the Upstate of South Carolina in the South: don’t put yourself in a box,” Nesbitt said. “Try different styles and types of theater. There’s something you will learn from each and every one that you can use in everything that you do. Don’t do just black. Don’t do just white. Do theater.”
Part of unlocking talent resources is knowing where to tap into them, Nesbitt said, be it getting the word out in black churches or through local chapters of historically black Greek organizations.
“What works in Greenville may not work in Greenwood and what works in Greenwood may not work in Anderson,” Nesbitt said. “It’s knowing who’s in the community and who those resources are.”
A Greer native, Nesbitt lives in Anderson now. For about 15 years, he was with the Phillis Wheatley Association in Greenville, working with youth and senior adult programming. Nesbitt also was involved with The Phillis Wheatley Dwight Woods Repertory Theatre’s youth initiatives.
Nesbitt is known to GCT audiences who saw him in the role of Hoke in GCT’s 2017 production of “Driving Miss Daisy” with Myra Greene. The two recently reprised their roles for that play in a Centre Stage Theatre production in Greenville this year.
Nesbitt, 66, got into theater as a child, through his church.
“A lady in our church, a teacher, by the name of Edith Sullivan Mack, always shared her gift of drama. My first year of integration in school, 1968, at Greer High School, I entered the school talent show.”
Nesbitt asked Mack to write down “The Creation” by James Weldon Johnson because a copy of it was not in the local library.
“I memorized it and recited it in the talent show and I placed second,” Nesbitt said. “The interest for me in drama has always been there.”
“A Raisin in the Sun” Nesbitt said, is one of the most classic pieces of American stage literature.
“You couple this with the time of the Harlem Renaissance and the writings of Langston Hughes,” Nesbitt said. “Here we are almost six decades later and the story could be written today. Why is that? This play is also an opportunity to share with younger generations a story that someone in their 20s might not be familiar with.”
Nesbitt said he first got to know the play as a stage manager for a production of it when he was in college.
“My whole goal is to be as authentic as possible,” Nesbitt said. “You want to really feel the spirit of what’s happening within this family. My intent is to make it real.”