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September 23, 2010

Re-Inspiration – Abena Malika

Abena Malika is an actress and musician who has appeared on stage for Mirvish Productions in The Adventures of a Black Girl In Search of God, Mamma Mia! and ’Da Kink In My Hair. She also toured as a singer with Toronto band Jacksoul, opening for the legendary James Brown on his last Canadian tour. Abena reprises her role as Ruth Younger in our revival of A Raisin in the Sun.

A Raisin in the Sun

Charles Officer & Abena Malika in A Raisin in the Sun. Photo: Trudie Lee.

Rehearsals for the remount of A Raisin In The Sun begin on Monday and I couldn’t be more excited to get back in the saddle with my families: My Soulpepper family, my “Younger” family, our amazing director Weyni Mengesha, stage management family, all these people whom I love…I feel blessed to be a part of a production that is so magical. I’ve been anticipating this for months now, thrilled at the thought of all the new experiences we will be able to have as cast and crew this time around.

This past summer, I taught drama to a lovely group of grade 7 and 8 students at Kane Middle School here in Toronto through one of Soulpepper’s Youth Outreach Programs. I thought it would be cool for us to work together on scenes from Raisin for the purposes of reading comprehension and for their final performances. Most of the kids had little to no experience with performance, and none of them had ever even seen a play. Watching them fall in love with this particular piece was wonderful…they were very shy about even just reading the scenes out loud at first. But then I watched them come right out of their shells as they were taken in by Ms. Hansberry’s beautiful storytelling, the wonderful ways in which her characters were instantly relatable to them; I saw them being drawn into the lives of the characters, and how the play had them thinking about aspects of their own lives.

My time with the kids over the summer really touched me. Through them, I have fallen in love with A Raisin in the Sun all over again. I’m inspired anew, and looking forward to all that is to come in the rehearsal process!