The play and the production of A Raisin in the Sun are comparable in multiple ways. After reading the play and watching the movie, there are many things that don’t exactly match up to one another causing the audience to develop a bias about several things that could use some reviewing. With all intentions, Hansberry worked delicately to choose the right actors to fit the parts in the movie production. Although Hansberry had good intentions when choosing the actors, acting is one of those things that she should consider reviewing for some characters in the movie.
Mama is one character that had great acting qualities. She was the typical grandmother in both the play and the movie. She carried all the right qualities in her acting. In the movie she was dressed appropriately as a grandmother wearing a dress, an apron, a hat with a flower on it, and her hair tied up “old timey”. She was a somewhat large framed woman and had all of the traits one would think of when thinking of a grandmother at this time. Not only did Mama’s appearance fit the description, so did her voice; literally and symbolically. She had her heart in place for the good of the family, especially Travis.
Mama also spoke from wisdom and the heart. She had been through a lot throughout her life and not only spoke from the heart but, acted from the heart. Mama presented herself in a “grandmotherly” way by acting from the heart and portrayed the true actions of a grandmother, just as she was depicted in the play. Ruth is another character who presented herself in the movie production as she was presented in the play. Ruth was very constant in her acting and transitioned smoothly throughout her lines. Her acting ways and appearance also fit her character nicely.
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Just as a housewife and a mom in the 1960’s, Ruth wore a dress and an apron, just as Mama did, she was up before anybody else in the house was, and she cleaned, cooked, and fulfilled every responsibility as a housewife and mother. Many times, Ruth had to bite her tongue although there were many things she wanted to say. She moved through these lines just as if it were a real situation between a mother-in-law and daughter-in –law. Ruth’s acting was just as society would expect it to be and just as Hansberry intended for it to be. Unfortunately, the same characteristics of Mama and Ruth cannot be described in Walter and Beneatha.
In the movie production, Walter and Beneatha gave the audience the impression that they were just reading their lines and performing their parts. They did not put their hearts into performing and give the audience the intuition that the play was an actual situation. Walter’s voice had a mechanical tone to it, giving no emotion, just as if it were recorded. When walking and moving throughout the apartment, Walter moved as if he were a robot with the exception of when he was dancing and jumping on the kitchen table. Although Walter didn’t put hardly any emotion into his performance, Beneatha had some emotion behind her performance.
With the little emotion Beneatha did have, she did not do much with it. She too, sounded mechanical. Her peak of emotion was when she wore her African dress she received from a friend. There was not enough emotion acting between to the two to be equivalent to the emotion behind Mama or Ruth’s acting. There are multiple things that Hansberry could do to improve the quality of Walter and Beneatha’s acting. Mama and Ruth gave the audience a sense that the play was taking place in real life. Walter and Beneatha on the other hand, gave an impression that it was just another play that they had to perform.
To make better characters of Walter and Beneatha, Hansberry should consider adding some emotion in their acting. A little bit of tone changing is all that it would take to give the audience an entirely different impression of their characters. Their voices stay at a constant tone almost throughout the entire play. Also adding more movement throughout the apartment and easier transitions would make the play flow smoother. With all of the elements that Hansberry could work on to improve the quality of the characters, tone of voice would be one overall element that would change the movie tremendously.
Hansberry had many intentions when choosing the characters for the movie production of A Raisin in the Sun. Regrettably; I have to say that Walter and Beneatha are the ones that did not meet the quality in acting that Mama and Ruth did. Small things like tone of voice and transitions are elements that could be changed to improve their acting qualities vastly. When choosing actors for a movie production after presenting a written play, a producer has to look for certain qualities.
After reading a play, an audience develops certain expectations for the movie production and to be successful, a producer has to follow through with those expectations. Unfortunately, Hansberry didn’t quite follow through with the expectations in the movie production that she set in the written play. Even though Walter and Beneatha’s acting didn’t quite meet the standards of Mama and Ruth’s acting, a little review of their acting skills could change their characters to boring to the most interesting and enthusiastic characters.
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