The intriguing retro-name of this relatively new company, Colored People’s Theatre, says loads about the group’s unflinchingly honest approach to telling a story. Their second rendition of Ntozake Shange’s epic choreopoem performed at this summer’s Fringe Festival, reflects the power of unbridled creativity.
Nestled in the creative incubator of Michael Dove’s Forum Theatre and showcasing at Silver Spring’s Round House, the production takes on new life and meaning while exploring untapped layers of expression, thanks to director, founder, Jamil Jude.
Obviously oblivious to the word “no,” Jude ’s newly launched theatre company has sprouted wings and is soaring all through Shange’s hauntingly beautiful and ubiquitous text in this second brief showing. When one of the ensemble became pregnant, Jude retrofitted the show as a– get this– a baby shower. And would you believe, I’ll be danged … it Works! All of the monologs are just as powerful, and the set-up emphasizes the loving oneness of sisterhood that is the bedrock of the piece.
The new framing puts Mom-to-be, Nicole Brewer, Lady in Brown, in the center of attention, and from her inviting introductory monolog, to her playful rendition about Toussant l’Ouverture, to her closing wrap up, it’s obvious why the show had to go on to include her.
Brewer handles her various roles with ease and grace, slipping playfully into various expressions of delight. Other notables include seasoned performers Michelle Rogers, as Lady in Blue with her rendition of life in Harlem, dancer Lauren Du Pree as Lady in Yellow invoking being the only virgin in her high school graduation, and the tirelessly energetic Nikki Strong who’s exuberant manner hits all her marks with joy. Relative newcomer Fahnlohnee H. Tate as Lady in Red rises to the occasion as the high stepping coquette, and the battered wife with two children whose nuanced performance adds poignancy to her story’s ultimate act of brutality, aided by striking lighting by Stephanie P. Freed.
In true survivalist fashion that marks how “colored people” have adjusted to trials and tribulations across the ages – as the gospel song goes, “made a way outta no way” – Jamil Jude, collaboratively supported by several of the finest theaters in the metro area, has made a way with Colored Girls, again.
for colored girls … ,which opens Forum Theatre’s Female Voices Festival, has 2 remaining performances, Sat, Dec 17 at 8pm and Sun, Dec 18 at 2pm at Round House Silver Spring, 8641 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD.
Details and tickets
for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf
Choreopoem by Ntozake Shange
Directed by Jamil Jude|
Produced by Colored People’s Theatre in Collaboration with Forum Theatre
Reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson
Running Time: 90 Minutes, with No Intermission