FOR COLORED GIRLS Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, by Ntozake Shange, directed y Elizabeth Carter
Lady in Blue, Natasha LaGrone , center; Lady in Yellow, Tiffany Tenille, left; Lady in Orange, Regina Monique, bottom left; Lady in Red, Paige Mayes;, behind Lady in Blue;; Lady in Brown, Jan Hunter, right; Lady in Green, Brittany Nicole Sims; below, right; Lad in Purple, Babbi Kindres, extreme right. Photos by Joe Giammarco
Though written in 1975, Shange’s play, For Colored Girls who have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, still resonates forty-three years later and probably has more of an impact today because of the Black Lives Matter movement and #Me too, and will most likely have an impact far into the future. And for the fact that more social and political issues between Whites and people of color (mostly Black) have been brought to light- sadly, often negative.
Eight barefoot actor, dressed in various loose styles from wrap-around dresses, jumpsuits, sheath dresses in cotton knit of one solid color (costumes by Nikki Anderson-Joy)’ share intimate anecdotes of such “painful/joyful/raw truth” as director Elizabeth Carter states about “the experience of being a woman, a black woman.” She goes on to say that every black woman I know who has touched this work still has her dog-eared copy of this seminal play. The women are framed in individual, open, white rectangles out of which they move while delivering their monologues (Designed by Randy Wong-Westbrooke) And wow! do they move beautifully, sensuously, jazzy, and free-form modern dance to subtle musical rhythms from the Carribean, Cuba to Africa, choreographed by Kendra Kimbrough Barnes. What they say is at once powerful yet heartbreaking, as well as sassy, humorous, philosophical, poetic, and comical.
The women are played by Jan Hunter as Lady in Brown; Tiffany Tenille, Lady in Yellow; Bobbie Kindred, Lady in Purple; Page Mayes, Lady in Red; Brittany Nicole Sims, Lady in Green; Natasha LaGrone, Lady in Blue; and Regina Monique, Lady in Orange. Some are making their debut with the African American Shakespeare Company, bringing their experience from other productions; others are veterans having appeared in several AASTC works. All are distinct, powerful, and memorable in their own way.
Lady in Blue, played by Natasha LaGrone, delivers the most agonizing, heartbreaking monologue, dealing with her man- the father of her young children- that will leave you gasping. Again, to quote Elizabeth Carter, ” . . . it is also the joy of black girl magic. The feeling of sharing with other black women our beauty, our laughter, our knowing. Our uniqueness. From our ancestral mothers to now it’s the journey of black womanhood.” And thanks to Ntozake Shange and AASC for sharing this beautiful play with us: audiences made up of dedicated theatregoers of all races, types, and beliefs and happily, mostly Black, who are a distinct minority in most audiences, except for plays written by August Wilson, Amira Baraka (Leroi Jones), Lorraine Hansberry, Langston Hughes, Suzan-Lori Parks, Anne Deavere Smith, amongst others.
A final note summed up by a quote from Director Elizabeth Carter: “For Colored Girls . . . is a sistah circle, a ritual we allow ourselves a black women to exorcise our pain, be our whole complicated selves and celebrate our love for one another. Through this we can heal ourselves for ourselves and shout ‘I found god in myself and I loved her/I loved her fiercely.’ “
For Colored Girls . . . ” is at Herbst’s Atrium Theatre Van Ness and McAllister, SF. BART, Muni # 47, 49 Van Ness. #5 McAllister. Tonight, Sept. 22, 8PM; Sun, Sept. 23 @ 3M; Sat, Sept 29 @ 3PM; Sat, Sept. 29 @ 8PM. Please note that Sat, 9/22, 9/23, 3 & 8PM may be sold out. Tickets @ https://coloredgirls.brownpapertickets.com/