For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf
Special events in Studio 88!
Pre-show panel discussion, 2/22, 4 pm
Director’s talk-back after the show, 2/22
Director and cast talk-back after the matinee, 2/25
Studio 88 Theatre
Written in 1974, Ntozake Shange’s “choreopoem” explores and celebrates the challenges of seven multi-cultural women. These women share their lives and personal experiences in their poems, personal/political narratives that introduce issues like abortion, domestic violence, love, loneliness, strength, rape and HIV. Each woman—who is known only by a color (Lady in Blue, Lady in Yellow etc.)—will perform her story separately, but together create a rich spectrum of human experience. This is a play about the power of women to shape, heal, and embrace their own lives and as well as each others’.
Director, John Frazier
Advised by, Dr. Paul Jackson
Scenic Designer, Kate Hawthorne
Advised by, Gion DeFrancesco and Steve Pauna
Technical Director, Steve Pauna
Scene Shop Supervisor, Tom Featherstone
Costume Designer, Grace Czeriawski
Advised by, Letty Delgado
Costume Shop Supervisor, Meggan Peters
Lighting and Sound Designer, Russ Blain
Choreographer, Ashley Goos
Assistant Choreographer, Tess Stanifer
Stage Manager, Joclene Harper
Assistant Stage Manager, TBD
Meka Clifford, Lady in Red
Ryanaustin Davis, Male Role
Stephanie Harris, Lady in Purple
Lauren Kelly, Lady in Orange
Cherith Scott, Lady in Yellow
Alex Short, Lady in Green
Angela Silva, Lady in Blue
Mari Taylor, Lady in Brown
Ntozake Shange was born Paulette Williams in 1948. Ntozake means, “she-who-comes-with-her-own-things,” and Shange means, “she-who-walks-like-a-lion.” Ms. Shange graduated cum laude at Barnard College in New York, and received a Master’s Degree in American Studies from the University of Southern California in L.A.
Originally For Colored Girl’s… began with performances in coffeehouses and small theaters around the San Francisco Bay Area. The performances were so well received, that Ms. Shange took it to New York City in 1975 and in the same year For Colored Girl’s Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf made its Off-Broadway debut.It quickly moved to Broadway, with performances at the Booth Theater. Since then, For Colored Girls… has won numerous awards, including: the Obie Award (1977) – Distinguished Production; and the Tony Award (1977) – Best Featured Actress in a Play. It was also nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play while on Broadway.
By John Frazier
In reexamining the text of for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow was enuf in this period of neo-globalization, a major question comes to the forefront. Can the text use multicultural bodies in performance to globalize the play; represent it in a way which speaks to the lives of all women? I believe so, and so too did Ms. Shange. Ms Shange’s use of multicultural bodies in the original production in Berkely California demonstrates that belief. It is also evident in interviews with the playwright when she elaborates on the cultural changes made when the work was produced on Broadway in New York City.
Will Power and Ntozake Shange
WP: … you have said that the Bay Area arts scene of the '70s and '80s had a powerful effect on your work. How was it different from what you might have found in another city?
NS: Well, as I remember it, the Bay Area was one of the few places in the country that was truly and actively multicultural. When I wrote for colored girls, I meant it for all women of color. When I took that idea to New York, they took out all my Puerto Ricans, and when I wanted to include Asians, they looked at me like I had lost my mind!
WP: Why do you think there was pressure in New York to make it specifically an African-American female experience?
NS: Because that's how Easterners perceived the world--in terms of black and white…
Power, Will. "catching up with NTOZAKE SHANGE." American Theatre (2007), p.30-33
Brenda Lyons and Ntozake Shange
BL: Is there a link between the title Colored Girls and the change in language to "people of color"?
NS: I know that fifteen years ago when I said "colored girls" I meant "people of color." The first group I worked with was black, white, Asian, and Native American. And in San Francisco that's what we meant. It was our own little tongue-in-cheek thing. When I moved back East, they couldn't deal with that. It was too difficult. "Color" meant "black people," so that's what it became, but syntactically and in terms of what's in the piece itself that's not true. I think now when you say "people of color" that's another way of saying "colored girls" but getting away from the trap I fell into. I don't think we did anything to stir it on, but I think that's what we meant.
Brenda Lyons and Ntozake Shange Source: The Massachusetts Review, (1987). Vol. 28, p. 687-696
As a director, I wish to return to that original concept and expand upon it. My original intention was to have a cast member from every “race” on earth. I place race in quotations because it is a word used in popular culture. However the term “race” is very misleading and comes from a place and time in American history when bigotry demanded that Africans, Asians, Indigenous peoples of this and other continents to be separated out from European Americans as “Another Race” to justify them being treated as lesser beings—a “Lesser Race”. The term, “race” is, in its origins and application, a flawed and inaccurate concept. “Social Darwinism” actively rejects our biological oneness, our emotional oneness, and our spiritual oneness. I feel that it is a feminist oneness of which Ms. Shange writes and so it is that oneness which I celebrate.
For this production, I have therefore cast European American, Dominican American, and African American women to tell the story of for colored girls in an effort to globalize the work and to turn the audience into participants, and not passive observers, in the lives of the characters. I wish the audience to see themselves in the work. In so doing, they become one with the performance and, in some small or large way, allow for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf to represent and speak for them.
John Nyrere has enjoyed a long performance career. He began his professional acting career with two east coast tours as an actor and dancer with Silver Sun Limited in Kingston, Rhode Island. John moved on to attend North Carolina Central University’s theatre department. During his time at the university, he involved himself in both university and local community theatre. He also co-wrote a production - "Bye-Bye Black Birds - with one of his theatre department professors. The production was included in North Carolina Central’s production season and represented the department at the American College theatre Festival and the Irene Ryan Acting Competition. He graduated with academic honors and was accepted to the Chicago College for the Performing Arts in downtown Chicago, Illinois where he received his MFA. While in Chicago, John worked with Shatter Globe Theatre Company, Adventure Stage Theatre, American Theatre Company, Victory Gardens Theater, and Next Theatre. He also worked with MidWay Video Games, EA Games/ Chicago, and Warner Brothers Entertainment as a motion capture performance artist. John is currently in his last year of Miami University’s MA program in theatre. He looks forward to presenting for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow to Miami University students and the broader Oxford community.