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Play review: The beauty that is ‘For Colored Girls’

Evans, Ethan (UMKC-Student)

Women of color, namely black women, deal with a variety of heavy issues daily. KCRep’s choreopoem, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf,” written by Ntozake Shange, captures every ounce of it, leaving its audience in tears.

Covering topics from coming of age to domestic abuse, finding one’s self and even abortion, this play is a rollercoaster of emotions, like the life of black women everywhere. One minute you could be dying laughing from familiar feelings the play discusses, and the next could leave you in tears. 

Though you may not personally connect to every beautifully-crafted poem on the Copaken Stage, you can feel every word and emotion these women spill out.

“I convinced myself that colored girls had no right to sorrow,” said Amber McKinnon, who plays the Lady in Orange.

Shange wrote this choreopoem in 1975 to address important topics that affect the lives of colored women daily. Using poetry as her medium of telling these tales, she was hoping to receive an emotional response from the audience.

The play began with the Lady in Brown reciting a poem, moving about the stage and setting the scene of the entire play. Towards the end of her poem, the rest of the women began to appear from secret entryways onto the stage—cubby holes, cut out windows and even large slanted doors—designed to keep the audience guessing where the next woman would appear from.

As the play unravels, the happy go lucky poems the women dance to begin to take a darker turn. One of the first poems, “graduation nite,” is spoken by the Lady in Yellow, telling about coming of age and finally losing her virginity the night she graduated high school. The entire cast of women dance along with her, adding comedic comments as if they are the men the Lady in Yellow is pining after.

The play then turns to darker poetry topics, like rape and abortion, using lighting and choreography to emphasize the intensity of emotions these topics can create in the life of a black woman.

“To be black and to be a woman is a kind of double infirmity that must be faced with courage,” Clive Barnes of The New York Times wrote. “Miss Shange’s evening of prose and poetry… is a lyric and tragic exploration into black woman awareness.”

Towards the end of the play, after discussing heavy topics that left the audience in tears, the women broke out dancing to the beat of Lizzo’s, “Juice,” which added a great modern touch to this play set in the 1970’s.

This play affects more than just the audience it’s being told to.

The director of the choreopoem, Khanisha Foster, said, “This play has followed me through half of my life. It is a celebration, a nourishment and the rhythm in my hips. Coming back to it at Kansas City Rep has been a delight because it is born of collaboration, and our collaborators are electric.”

“For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf” runs downtown at the Copaken Stage through Nov. 10.

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