In 1959, Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway after a successful tour. This remarkable performance featured a black cast, and staged a generation that was beginning to find intellectual sources of race pride. By contrast, exactly one hundred years earlier, in 1859, the 'great dramatic "sensation"' of the New York stage had been Dion Boucicault's The Octoroon, a play set on a plantation and which describes blackness as shameful. In form and in subject matter these two plays appear to have little in common, but this essay traces a connection between the two. The connection is this: the Irish playwright Sean O'Casey felt inspired by reading and performing the work of Boucicault, and, in turn, O'Casey provided a 'point of departure' for Hansberry when she scripted her best-known play. By examining these points of connection, the essay examines a significant if counter-intuitive line of influence.
Moran, J. (2022). Boucicault-O’Casey-Hansberry: Tracing a Line of Influence. Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film, 49(2), 165–181. https://doi.org/10.1177/17483727221115038