NEW YORK (PIX11) — In her short but extraordinary life, Lorraine Hansberry made history as the first African American woman to have a show produced on Broadway.

Hansberry tragically passed away at the age of 34 from pancreatic cancer. Her best-known play may be “A Raisin in the Sun,” but it’s her final play that’s drawing all the attention right now. 

“The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window” is being staged at BAM Harvey Theater in Brooklyn with two heavy hitters in the lead roles. 

Rachel Brosnahan, who catapulted to fame in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and Oscar Isaac, who recently starred in the HBO mini-series “Scenes from a Marriage,” portray Iris and Sidney Brustein in the sweeping drama about idealism, identity and love.

Brosnahan sees Iris as being an inside-out person, meaning all her soft spots are on the outside, which makes her earnest but also extremely vulnerable because she is someone who feels everything deeply.

Isaac characterizes Sidney as a “reluctant feeler.” Isaac said the character is in kind of a battle with himself to close off because he has become exhausted. He feels like he has given everything he can to a number of causes and he is starting to retreat from life and from his friends.

“The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window” follows the couple through the struggles of trying to find themselves during a period of radical change in Greenwich Village in the 1960s and how their progressive dreams don’t quite keep up with reality.

“It takes place when the civil rights movement is about to break open,” Isaac said. “Things are shifting underneath him, so there is this desire he has to withdraw. What we see is everything that happens, this reckoning that happens.”

That complexity is what drew Isaac to this play.

“I think it is part of the pull of wanting to do it, play this — for lack of a better word — lost piece. It rarely gets done because it is so raw and so messy and wild,” Isaac said. “It’s impossible not to hear all the prophetic things that are said, that she talks about, that they were grappling with then. You hear the hope and desire to continue to struggle and how easy it was even 60 years ago. We can’t anymore, we can’t anymore.”  

Isaac said to hear those same things 60 years later is both inspiring and terrifying because it feels like things haven’t changed.

It’s been six years since Isaac has been on stage. He describes performing on stage as a very unique and exciting experience, where you can feel the audience breathing as one organism.

For Brosnahan, it is a completely new experience. She said it’s terrifying, but at the same time, it’s a really beautiful exercise. She’s described herself as someone who can be somewhat guarded with her inner life, and it’s been a welcome challenge to turn inside out and find her vulnerability on stage.

Joi Gresham is the director of the Lorraine Hansberry Literary Trust. She said the playwright would be thrilled at her work being done at this moment in history.

Gresham said a lot of the themes now are recognizable because enough time has passed, and enough culture has shifted that people can look at it and see themselves.

Hansberry’s words are filled with wit and passion. Brosnahan said Hansberry’s voice was so powerful but feels so needed in the present moment when people are having conversations about identity, politics and art and the role of art and artists in society.

As for their hopes for the audience?

“I hope that they are moved by the prophetic nature of this young woman who was seeing the end of her life coming, and, just refusing to give up in her writing and just putting it all out there no matter how raw, no matter how provocative, no matter how messy. I think that’s just something so moving to witness,” Isaac said.