05 February 2019


There's no real point in me trying to provide historical reference or cultural context for NTOZAKE SHANGE. I'm not going to try to pretend that I can appropriately place or discuss a Black feminist poet and playwright, but I can tell you that hearing cuts from Shange's play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf as a white teenager in Oklahoma was....intense, and especially from young Black women from small towns, finding and hearing their own voices and their own experiences through Shange's words. This was in 1987/88, at competitive drama competitions in the state - competitions that were, for a while, my only real outlet outside of life in Ponca City, and the only place I could interact with people who were bigger than, or other than, my small world.  I remember two women performing pieces from For Colored Girls...., I know one was from Pawhuska, it was like a mic drop in the room every time as quiet young women walked quietly back to their seats, having been unleashed if only for a moment. At the time I could only think how much MORE isolating their experiences could have been, must have been, and the power of those words in the context that they were presented, more so even than the context in which they were penned, was intimidating and humbling and simply awesome. So that's all I know...except that listening to this almost one hour NTOZAKE SHANGE is like a day at school and a night at the theater at the same time. Sharp, lyrical poems of frustration and bewilderment, and a perspective that hits everyone who hears her - whether you have considered suicide or not. 

No comments: