Tonight I go onstage in my high school's production of Raisin in the Sun. The principal is giving a free box of raisins to all students who attend, which strikes me as eerily inappropriate, since the raisin in the title symbolizes human aspirations. Will students symbolically be eating the hopes of others?
When the director Mr Jones came to me last month and told me about the play and that he had a part for me, I said yes without hesitation. I am a ham from way back, and there is no curing me. I knew instantly the part he had in mind: Mr Linder, the smarmy guy who comes in the third act with a cash offer to buy back the Younger family's new house in order to prevent a black family from moving into all-white Clyburn Hills. I also knew instantly why I had been cast. Obviously the part had to be played by a white man, or the play wouldn't make sense. In a virtually all-black school there were few other choices. But more than that, and this is the part that really gets me, and I knew what Mr Jones was thinking as soon as he approached me with the offer - I have come to physically resemble the scrawny bald runt who plays the role in the Sidney Poitier version.
I'm not complaining, really. I instantly saw the aptness of the casting choice, and as I say, jumped at the chance to play a part. We had a run-through last night, and if I say so myself, I was brilliant. It's been a long time since I've trod the boards, and I'm a bit rusty, but the ol' instincts are still there.
My students will get to see another side of their teacher. I'm looking forward to tonight.