With direction by Leah C. Gardiner and choreography by Camille A. Brown, the revival of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide /When The Rainbow Is Enuf is running at the Public Theater now until December 1.
The play, which premiered on Broadway in 1976, follows Shange’s original work—a series of poems and adapted song and dance movements that reflect the intertwined stories of seven women of color who survive against rape, loss, racism, trauma, domestic violence, and hardship.
There are some modern-day elements woven into the 1970s structure—albeit the words of suffering are never outdated—starting with Celia Chevalier (Lady in Brown), who offers a young and fresh perspective to the choreographed numbers. She incorporates several currently trending movements into her characterization while Danaya Esperanza (Lady in Orange) is a spicy and boisterous soul dancer who seems to pour out from a very real place.
Jayme Lawson who plays Lady in Red, has a “twerk” outburst that stirs up laughter within the crowd, but also delivers one of the heaviest poems in the play, juggling a range of four characters in one monologue! And Adrienne C. Moore (Lady in Yellow) fills the stage with candor, raw affection, and perfect comedic timing. She is equally funny and mesmerizing with her openness onstage!
Okwui Okpokwasili (Lady in Green) re-enters with a heart-wrenching dance combo that is both impressive and emotional, then delivers a monologue that is somehow interactive. Alexandria Wailes (Lady in Purple) uses American Sign Language to communicate her lines, which are interpreted (for the audience) by her fellow co-stars respectively— a beautiful way of storytelling. Lastly, Sasha Allen (Lady in Blue) commands the stage with her singing voice. Even as she’s seated under dimmed lighting, her solos stand out in a way that is both precious and startling.
The energy throughout the show is unmatched as the performers push through a series of back to back scenes with no set, changes, props, or other elements to add to the storytelling. They must pull inspiration from the audience— a great percent of the theater goers are seated on the stage. Their interactions with the audience pull you into the existence of each character as they rely on one another to create the visual.
Through liturgical dance, stepping, modern, and contemporary combinations, from large semi-circles to small clumps downstage, the group embodies sisterhood!
There’s a scene where exaggerated breathing becomes the music, and it’s chilling. Moments when you think it might end, the play continues on even past the most electrifying scene where a soul train line appears!
The vernacular language feels natural and conversational parting from each of their lips as the play ends with a repeated line: “I found God in myself and I loved her fiercely,” which is matched with all different tones, volumes, and textures of voice. The play ends in an upbeat declaration and disco balls in each color of the rainbow brighten the stage before the bows!
For Colored Girls is a must see, featuring all-women of color in the cast, crew, and creative department— a revolution on its own!
For tickets, click here.