Ntozake Shange’s ‘For Colored Girls’ Returns to the Stage

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Sep 17, 2019

Black feminist, poet and novelist Ntozake Shange died on October 27, 2018, but her greatest creative contribution, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” will live on at the Public Theater in New York City. Running October 8 through November 24, 2019, the latest staging is the play’s first return to the theater since it premiered in 1976, pre-Broadway.

The groundbreaking play, which can be described as Shakespeare on steroids, created its own literary genre called the choreopoem, which weaves poetry, language and dance through the tight structure of a play. Arguably one of the most popular plays read by girls and women of color, it masterfully tells the stories of seven different women, each of whom is named for a color.

“It’s an absolute weapon, this play,” the production’s director and Obie Award-winner Leah C. Gardiner told The New York Times in an article published on Monday (September 16). The choreography will hopefully match the script’s fire, as Camille A. Brown told The Times that the movements will draw on contemporary dance styles, including hip-hop, that didn’t exist when Shange and cast first took the stage decades ago.

Gardiner also said she is mindful of the current political climate and will use “For Colored Girls” to explore the conversation. “When you’re watching your country disintegrate, you’re watching your empire fall,” Gardiner said. “That is when some of the greatest art is made.” 

Visit the Public Theater for more information.