Ntozake Shange’s iconic for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf was groundbreaking when it was first produced in 1975 and, for better or for worse, its message is still relevant today. The “choreopoem” combines movement, dance, music and language to address the struggles and joys of being a black woman in America.
The play addresses rape and abortion, love and empowerment, as well as music, dance, and beauty. This production uses the text that Shange updated in 2010 to include references to HIV/AIDS and PTSD.
Theater Alliance’s production, directed by Deidra LaWan Starnes, is blessed with a powerful ensemble, and it is the sense of camaraderie and loving support in that ensemble that makes the piece truly shine. As each woman performs her poem, she is supported by the other women on the stage -from laughs and vocal interjections during moments of triumph to a helping hand and an arm to lean on after a poem of sorrow and pain.
This group of performers, each dressed in a single color, is the rainbow to which the title refers and, although the characters experience the full range of oppression and aggression that is thrust upon black women by the world, that rainbow is enough.
for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
February 25 – March 26
at Anacostia Playhouse
2020 Shannon Place SE,
Washington, DC 20020
1 hour, 30 minutes, no intermission
Tickets: $35 or $65 when combined with Word Becomes Flesh
Although it is truly an ensemble piece, individual performers are given a chance to shine. Lolita Marie is exceptional, in particular as she tells the story of Senchita, a bayou Carnival dancer, as Sharisse Taylor dances the character to life. Natalie Tucker is electric as she tells the audience that someone, some man, almost walked off with all her “stuff,” not her possessions, but the things that make her whole. Although it is one of the shorter poems, Naomi LaVette makes the piece about a woman who used to live in the whole world, but now only lives in six block of Harlem absolutely unforgettable.
for colored girls is a hugely important part of the history of American theatre, and in the theatre of African American women in particular, but it is not a historical piece. Its message, aims, and innovative structure are as critical today as they were 40 years ago.
for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange. Directed by Deidra Starnes. Featuring Christa Bennett, Kashayna Johnson, Naomi LaVette, Alina Collins Maldonado, Lolita Marie, Sharisse Taylor, and Natalie Tucker. Set Design: Ethan Sinnott. Lighting Design: Dan Covey. Sound Design: David Lamont Wilson. Costume Design: Marci Rodgers. Choreography Sandra L. Holloway. Stage Manager: Keta Newborn. Assistant Stage Manager: Erin Syring. Produced by Theatre Alliance. Reviewed by Jessica Pearson.