Tony nominee Valisia LeKae, in collaboration with Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) and the Equity in the Arts and Culture Committee of the Brooklyn NAACP, presents Scenes From Sweet Lorraine The Play November 19. The digital production recreates scenes from the Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj–Adam Mace play Sweet Lorraine with LeKae (Motown the Musical) as Lorraine Hansberry and 2020 Tony nominee Daniel J. Watts (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical) as James Baldwin.
The special performance streams free above and on Playbill’s YouTube at 7 PM ET in honor of World Pancreatic Cancer Day and is available to watch through November 22. Donations are encouraged to support SU2C and the Equity in the Arts and Culture Committee of the Brooklyn NAACP. A limited-capacity discussion with the cast, directors and creative team follows at 8 PM. Donations and tickets for the talkback are available via Eventbrite.
Sweet Lorraine, which had its world premiere at the 2019 Rave Theatre Festival, is a theatrical interpretation of the final conversation shared between best friends Hansberry and Baldwin in the former’s New York City hospital room in January 1965.
Inspired by Hansberry and Baldwin’s activism and personal cancer journeys, as well as Valisia LeKae’s own ovarian cancer diagnosis in 2013, Scenes From Sweet Lorraine The Play intertwines conversations around social justice and health equity, in addition to powerful stories from caregiver Bertha Howard, BSN, MSN, RN, co-founder of the Elvin Howard, Sr. Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Foundation (EHSPCAF); and pancreatic cancer survivor Cedric Robins, EHSPCAF Ambassador. The event will also highlight the importance of addressing racial disparities within the American healthcare system with regard to cancer research.
“As a cancer survivor, I know firsthand the difficulties Black people and people of color face when it comes to representation in a space where our stories, our journeys, and our healthcare needs have not been supported,” says LeKae. “I wear the crown of responsibility of those who have come before me to make sure their stories are told and that their full lives are shared.”
“The NAACP has been one of the most important organizations dedicated to not only the legacy of the advancement of Black people, but also the feeling of safety,” adds Watts. “Both Lorraine and James succumbed to complications with cancer. They were also both gay and lesbian. My father passed away in 2007 from lung cancer. He was also a gay man in the South without much of a community. In telling this story of Lorraine and James. we are simultaneously telling the stories of countless others who have either gone unnoticed or were left unremembered. This project is a resurrection, and it allows me to commune with my father for a while. And I know he feels safe.”
The production team for this event includes executive producer LeKae; co-writers and co-directors Maharaj and Mace; associate producers Abdul Tubman and Dana Iannuzzi; director of photography, editor, and sound engineer Paul Wilt; and producing assistant Kevin Ferguson.