Ntozake Shange, Tony Nominated Writer of FOR COLORED GIRLS... Has Passed Away at 70
Ntozake Shange, Tony nominated writer of the play, for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf, has died at age 70.
Structurally, For Colored Girls is a series of 20 poems, collectively called a 'choreopoem.' Shange's poetry expresses the many struggles and obstacles that African-American women face throughout their lives. It is performed by a cast of seven women characters, each of whom is known only by a color: "Lady in Yellow," "Lady in Purple," etc.
The poems deal with love, abandonment, rape, and abortion, embodied by each woman's story. For example, Lady in Blue's visceral account of a woman who chooses to have an abortion, and Lady in Red's tale of domestic violence. The end of the play brings together all of the women for a "laying on of hands," in which Shange evokes the power of womanhood as the Lady in Red begins the mantra "I found God in myself/and I loved her/I loved her fierce."
The play was adapted into a book in 1977 and then into the Tyler Perry film For Colored Girls which featured Janet Jackson, Loretta Devine, Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose, Kerry Washington, Phylicia Rashad, Whoopi Goldberg, and Tessa Thompson.
Shange also wrote a stage adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children, (Obie winner). Her novels include Liliane, Betsey Brown, and Sassafras, Cypress & Indigo, in addition to several collections of poetry. Shange is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and recently served as an associate professor in the English Department at Prairie View A & M.
According to Vulture, Shange had been recovering from several strokes in recent years, and she passed away in her sleep on Saturday morning at an assisted living facility in Bowie, Maryland.
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