It may be too late for Black History Month or even Women’s History Month, but TheatreUSF sees no date as bad to discuss the women’s movement.
For Colored Girls who have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow is Enuf, directed by associate professor of theatre Fanni Green was quite a revolutionary play in the ’70s. Still, although the play is almost 30 years old, it resonates with messages that speak to women today.
“(Writer Ntozake Shange) uses storytelling, music (and) dance to target issues of sexuality (and) stereotypes for black women: abuse, abortion, relationships,” Green said. “I think that universally the play speaks to women of color, black women and to women period. All women share these experiences.”
Actually, the production isn’t even really a play.
“It’s called a choreopoem. It’s a series of poems written by Ntozake Shange that we have put in the same dramatic space,” Green said “It makes it a play because of all the dramatic situations we have. (All the women) have obstacles and problems and that’s what makes it a dramatic situation.”
The play’s characters are all from the outskirts of different towns, but, for dramatic purposes, all actresses interact with each other. The characters don’t have names, rather, they are identified by colors.
“The colors represent the cycles of a woman,” Green said. “The girl to teen girl to young women to married women (that are) old enough to have had some failed relationships, disappointments, old enough to be in a career, to have children.”
The piece was originally written as a series of poems and performed by Shange in coffeehouses in the ’70s. Eventually, the author put them into a play form but kept each poem separate.
For Colored Girls is Shaana Henton’s first performance with TheatreUSF. She is a sophomore psychology major with a minor in dance and plays the lady in Orange.
“Women of all color can relate to the struggle each of the characters goes through,” Henton said. “I know women in my family who have (experienced) at least one of (these issues).”
And, although the play strays slightly from the tradition that TheatreUSF has long established, Green tends to disagree with that assumption.
“The play is different in structure and form, but it still looks at human experiences. You know the play is time bound because of the issues discussed that were prevalent (back then), but it still speaks to women today,” she said.
Green came in contact with the play almost 20 years ago when it was freshly composed, but she says it hasn’t lost its value.
“The most gratifying thing is to see how it still means something to women now,” Green said.
Contact Olga Robak at email@example.com