Wakefield ASL Teacher Ms. Banks Directs Screening of A Raisin in the Sun


The cast poses for a picture while rehearsing.

VOCA presents a short film screening of A RAISIN IN THE SUN by Lorraine Hansberry, directed by Michelle A. Banks and Nayte Paxton. The film depicts the excerpts of three scenes performed by the Deaf African-American cast: Evon Black (Mama Younger), Tanisha Russell (Beneatha Younger), Kojo Amissah (Walter Lee Younger), Wade Green (Joseph Asagai), and Dorian Fletcher (Bobo).

Wakefield ASL Teacher Ms. Banks sat with The Chieftain to answer a few questions. What luck to have such a talented director teach at Wakefield!

What is similar about being a teacher and a director?

Being a teacher and a director is similar because I enjoy working with people and I give guidance to both students and actors in gaining their self-esteem in the classroom and onstage.

Why did you choose Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun as the performance for this season?

A Raisin in the Sun is always one of my favorite plays. I have always wanted to direct or act in A Raisin in the Sun one day. I directed the play at Gallaudet University, the only university for deaf and hard of hearing students in the world, back in 2018. Since the inception of my new theater company, Visionaries of Creative of the Arts (VOCA) in 2019, I wanted to continue my journey with this play. So, I decided to direct it again on a professional level and we were supposed to produce it in April 2020. But because of COVID-19, the play got canceled. I figured out how to still do it during the pandemic. Suddenly, I had a great idea to shoot a short film with some excerpts from the scenes and show it virtually where people could enjoy during the holiday.

What are you most proud of with this production?

I’m proud of the work that the actors and crew have brought to screen to showcase their talents virtually. I thought it was important to elevate their creativity and talent on screen.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchase thru VOCA’s website – www.visionariesofthecreativearts.org or voca.eventbrite.com.

All proceeds will go to development and training programs for Deaf BIPOC Artists.