“Write what you know.” It’s the most basic advice writers receive. For the late playwright Ntozake Shange, it was well-heeded. Her self-described “choreopoem” took Broadway by storm in 1976 and once again, it has returned to its original home at the Booth Theatre in fine form.
for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf is a potent collection of pieces, partially inspired by the author’s own experiences. Shange claimed to have attempted suicide four times in her life before finding hope. (She died of natural causes in 2018.)
Seven black women comprise the cast, each dressed in a solid, but vivid colorful costume (elegantly designed by Sarafina Bush), and each one has their moment to bask in the spotlight, illuminating Shange’s beautifully crafted script.
Stories of abortion, relationships, infidelity, friendship, and loss are all conveyed, sometimes funny, other times tearful, but always vulnerable and honest.
Stacey Sargeant delivers a particularly pointed monologue with “sorry,” in which she laments the endless apologies from her apologetic partner. “i cant use another sorry next time you should admit you’re mean/ low-down/ triflin/ & no count straight out steada bein sorry alla the time enjoy bein yrself.”
There is a quite of bit of disgust towards men in general here, but it’s justified. How could one possibly forgive the tragic events brought on in a “night with beau willie brown?” Kenita R. Miller (whose heartrending performance in The Color Purple musical still lingers in the mind) paints a clear portrait of domestic doom and offers one of the night’s most somber moments.
Director and choreographer Camille A. Brown has assembled a stellar cast, accentuated richly by Aaron Rhyne’s projection design. The incorporation of deaf actor Alexandria Wailes adds even more beauty and complexity to the canvas.
Wonderful as it is—and although it more than deserves its place on Broadway-one wonders if the intimacy of the material would be better served in a smaller space?
Nonetheless, for colored girls is unapologetically brave and bold. It’s hard not to think that this work didn’t inspire Thoughts of a Colored Man, a similar all-black, male collection of vignettes seen earlier this year on Broadway.
Speaking of inspiration—and bad ass black women- it’s appropriate to mention that Miller is eight months pregnant and starring in a Broadway show. Watching her glow onstage, one can only imagine and hope that her child will inherit the same life’s joy that is experienced onstage through this marvelous production.
for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf is now on Broadway at the Booth theater (222 W. 45th between 8th and Broadway) through August 14th. For tickets and info, click here.