Studio Theatre, 501 14th St NW.
Saturday, July 16th at 9:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 21st at 6 p.m.
Saturday, July 23rd at 12 p.m.
Sunday, July 24th at 8:30 p.m.
They say: “for colored girls illuminates the tales of women in all the shades of life’s experiences. Through poetry and dance, Ntozoke Shange reminds us that women bear a complicated love waiting for a laying on of hands.”
Universal Em’s Take: The opening performance of the Colored Peoples’ Theatre Collective‘s presentation of Ntozake Shange‘s timeless for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf was met with a standing ovation from a packed house at the Studio Theatre. I saw an audience completely enraptured by what they had just witnessed. There were teary-eyed faces, celebratory shouts and audience members hugging it out. Yeah, you could say I left with a little rainbow in my heart as well.
Traditionally seen as a seminal piece in African American literature, the play’s recent movie adaptation by Tyler Perry made it even easier to classify the work as just another “black production.” Even with director Jamil Jude‘s insistence that this was to be taken as a universal work, the name of the theater group as well as their stated goal—to explore, challenge and impact how race and diversity are seen on stage—I couldn’t help but see one color. That is, until those six lovely ladies made their way to the stage. Dressed in bright hues of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and brown, as befit each character, all of the women projected confidence and glamor. So bedazzling were the frequent wardrobe changes, beautifully choreographed dance sequences, and emotionally charged monologues, that black was probably the only color I didn’t see.
Although each lady gets significant stage-time, the true power of this play lies when they are all onstage together and their chemistry and unison can be seen. Whether they’re dancing and singing or just commiserating, when done together, Shange’s message of sisterhood comes through. Still, what I was left with was the audience’ss reaction. As colorful as the performance on stage, the audience’s only act also coincided with another one of the theater troupe’s stated goals, “that theater is not created in a vacuum; it is a collaborative entity.” With all the hues on stage, an in the audience, the Colored Peoples’ Theater Collective managed to do exactly what they set out to do. The rainbow is enuf.
See it if: If you want to see an adaptation of this play not made by Madea.
Skip it if: You scoff or shudder at the sight of a rainbow.