Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Inverse Casting: A Raisin in the Sun

…wherein film casts are re-imagined with the variables inversed, be it age, sex, race, nationality … X

In March I had the bizarre dream and like any real human I immediately tweeted about it. The dream? A new adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun but this time all-white. Bizarre, you say? But of course. So many of the themes which A Raisin in the Sun rests on depends on the race of its cast and yet I was still intrigued and it was this oddity that made me begin my initial “Inverse Casting” machinations. I’ve mused abit more on that odd dream, made a change and – behold – the white raisin in the sun. To make it more palatable, the crux of the diversion in addition to being racially drawn (but reversed) will rest on religion. Black Christians vs White _______, to be decided….

Karl Lindner – Jeffrey Wright
…the visiting represent of the Youngers’ future home, kindly but stolid…
I actually owe this one to Paolo who immediately suggested Wright way back when I had a dream and truly Wright, who manages to be in so many things but still isn’t quite as notable as I think he ought to be. He’s never especially wowed be but he’s a continuously reliable performer and I like that note of dependability for the role of Lindner – the visitor who means well, or thinks he means well. Wright would be an interesting change from Stamos’ shifty, nervous Lindner from the 2008 TV adaptation. He also manages to have gravitas without being too fearsome which could be a key asset to the role.

Scarlett Johansson – Beneatha Younger
…the passionate younger daughter of Lena Younger, headstrong and eclectic…
I mused on performers who were less worldly or more obviously aggressive than Scarlett but I stuck with her two reasons here. For one, I believe as the sister and the daughter of the actors. For two, I think depending on the role Scarlett is a good to great actor who is bizarrely not considered to be one of the finer actors of her era. Thirdly, and most essentially, Beneatha’s character on the surface exists in her ostentation and her confidence even as within she’s not as certain of herself. It’s a cadence I’d believably imagine Scarlett pulling off.

 Kate Winslet – Ruth Younger
…Lena’s rock in the family, Walter’s accommodating, but strong wife…
My original dream had Jane Krakowski, and if you don’t know I’m a major Krak(owski) whore. I decided not to subvert expectations for the role and engender a reunion of sorts by turning to Kate. Ruth has always been my favourite character of the play, and Audra’s work in the 2008 incarnation is a master class in subtlety. Who else but Kate to carry the weight of the family’s troubles when Lena is absent? Who but Kate could navigate through the joy of a new child and concurrent fear? Who but Kate to devastate when strong Ruth breaks down?

Patrick Wilson – Walter Lee Younger
…the dissatisfied sun with many goals but little means to accomplish them…
Even more than Scarlett Johansson, I NEED Patrick Wilson to get some recognition as a fine actor and to get a solid role to remind us of that. Poitier’s Walter Lee is the ideal one, and Wilson’s Walter would recall some of Poitier’s original beats. Like him Wilson exudes an air of suavity which works especially when it becomes necessary to juxtapose the way Walter appears with the desperation he feels. One does not immediately think of Wilson in conjunction with the deep emotive range of someone like Walter but that’s precisely why I’d love to see him in a role like this. I know he could handle it, he’s just not been given the chance.

Jessica Lange – Lena Younger
…the centre of the family’s universe, strong, warm, unassailable mother lioness…
There are a number of older actresses who I adore and why NEED great roles. Where, oh where, are the fine roles to be played by Ellen Burstyn and Sissy Spacek and Barbara Hershey and Marsha Mason? I think we all know who they’re going to, but I digress. I settled on Jessica because historically she’s been identified – even as she’s grown older – as notable for her glamour and allure. She most recently quashed that particular notion of being typecast with her work in Grey Gardens and I’d be interested in seeing her tap into the tender sensitivity of a Lena Younger. One of her finest performances (Frances) depends on so many subtleties and Lange’s ability to grasp the audiences’ attention even in an ensemble makes her the perfect candidate to lead this cast.

(Previously Inversed: Closer; The Lion in Winter; Glengarry Glen Ross; Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf)

So, how bizarre was my initial dream and this concept of an all-white version of A Raisin in the Sun, just for kicks? Who’d you kick out of the cast? Who would you bring in?

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