“I can’t count the times I viscerally wanted to attack, deform and maim the language I was taught to hate myself in,” says a character in Ntozake Shange’s new choreoplay, “Lost in Language and Sound,” which recently premiered in New York City. But the award-winning playwright, 65, is in a new battle with language, her body, and the technology that’s supposed to make life easier.

The New York Times recently profiled Shange and her battle against a neurological disorder called chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy that’s left her unable to write or type without difficulty. The disorder came after a pair of strokes that left her temporarily unable to read.

“I can’t work on a computer and I can’t write very well, either,” Shange told the Times. “It sort of feels empty, not like I’m swollen with words. I feel like there’s an astringent being applied to my body so that everything is getting very tight and I can’t release it right this minute.”

“Spell-check ruins my work,” she added. “It fixes all my slang and dialect into standard English. So I’m caught in a tangle of technology that feels very foreign to me. My characters don’t talk necessarily in a normal American way of talking. They talk a little different. So I’m having a struggle with the grammar.”

Shange is most known for her hit 1975 choreoplay “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf” and later advised filmmaker Tyler Perry in his 2010 film adaptation of the play. Both were wildly successful. 

Read more at the New York Times


Read this online at http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/10/ntozake_shange_talks_about_a_new_struggle_with_words_and_health.html

Thank you for printing out this Colorlines.com article. If you liked this article, please make a donation today at colorlines.com/donate to support our ongoing news coverage, investigations and actions to promote solutions.