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BWW Review: Poetry is in Motion in Soulpepper's FOR COLORED GIRLS

"somebody/ anybody sing a black girl's song bring her out"

Ntozake Shange's poetry is in very capable hands with Soulpepper Theatre Company's captivating production of FOR COLORED GIRLS...(for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf). Described as a "choreopoem", the work is a spirited unity of written word and dance. The text alone is provocative and beautifully rhythmic, but Djanet Sears' production elevates the work with choreography that accentuates the power of the words. A true ensemble piece, FOR COLORED GIRLS is an homage to the unique journey we are all on, and the healing power in sharing your voice.

The play follows a series of monologues set to prose, delivered by seven black women who, divided by the distinct colours of their dresses, are united in their experiences. The support within the ensemble encourages the women to speak and they take turns unleashing stories of love, abuse, foolish men, abandonment - even rape.

Sears creates quite the experience. The action unfolds in a timeless, unidentified space - the only set piece being a large, shimmering runway (designed by Astrid Janson). There is singing throughout (the group settles into their sound midway), the hum of acapella accompaniment during a particularly tragic scene will suddenly erupt into full belting, guided by the beating rhythm of body percussion.

Ensemble of for colored girls... photo credit: Cylla von Tiedemann

I hate to single out one performer, but d'bi.young anitafrika as Lady in Red deserves the praise. She begins in a wig, her humour on display - "this note is attached to a plant i've been waterin since the day i met you." However, when the wig comes off, so does a superficial aspect of her personality. She lets her walls down and we are suddenly invited to look into her soul. She is raw, she embodies defeat - but the group is there to put her back together again.

I could say that as a young white man, the experiences of these black women didn't resonate with me - but that would be a lie. The play resonates if you've ever been hurt. It resonates if you too are sick of hearing, "I'm sorry". It resonates if you've ever been afraid to use your voice. These stories can be hard to hear, but we need to keep sharing them.


Presented by Soulpepper Theatre Company, FOR COLORED GIRLS who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf is playing through May 31, 2017 at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Lane, Toronto, ON.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

Advisory: This production deals with issues such as rape and domestic abuse.

(photo credit: Cylla von Tiedemann)

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From This Author Taylor Long