Arts & Entertainment

Production explores black womanhood

The Black Student Union gives a voice to black women in a new production.

The Black Student Union’s production, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, represents the diverse experiences of seven African-American women, as they struggle to find their place in the world.
Emotional, gritty and raw are terms that suit the production’s representation of characters, known as Lady in Brown, Lady in Yellow, Lady in Purple, Lady in Red, Lady in Green, Lady in Blue and Lady in Orange.

The play differs from other theatrical productions because it is “spoken word as a play,” said director Jamila Capitman, a film and media arts major who also plays Lady in Green.

The play, which is based upon Ntozake Shange’s work, chronicles the lives of several African-American women, each representing various aspects of the black woman’s experience. As these characters attempt to mold themselves into stronger women, they encounter numerous obstacles from their environments.

“[Lady in Blue] feels like she has to be rough because of her environment, but she does have a soft side,” said Temple alumna LaNeshe Miller, who plays Lady in Blue.

Each woman is from a different area of the country. They reside in cities across the nation, from San Francisco to Baltimore. Their characters are as diverse as the topography of the United States.

Lady in Brown is “an innocent child” who has a “strong sense of her culture,” said freshman theater major Nasya Gay about her character’s persona.

Lady in Brown is engrossed in her African-American heritage. On the other hand, Lady in Red attempts to cope with the domestic abuse she experiences at the hands of her boyfriend.

The members of the cast embody the anguish and determination their characters portray. Lady in Orange, played by junior BTMM major Ariana Santiago, expresses the difficulty of trying to mend a broken heart, while Lady in Green is trying to regain the piece of her she lost to a lover.

The play also addresses the brutality of issues such as date rape. The cast drew inspiration from their personal experiences and individuals around them.

“I had to find a way to portray being strong… being this woman of strength… [while] being weak on the inside,” said freshman theater major Kashayna Johnson.

“I drew inspiration from cousins and family members I know [and] also watching these talented young ladies [of the cast],” Santiago said about her character Lady in Orange.

Capitman wanted individuals that not only had basic acting skills but who seemed to understand the play and its thematic message.

She also thought it was important to have diversity among the looks of the characters to depict the various aspects of African-American womanhood. Capitman said the production could help expand BSU by drawing in individuals who were not necessarily interested in politics but enjoyed the arts.

Capitman said it was vital to update the play so people could better understand its themes. She updated Shange’s work by adding music from popular culture. Some of these tunes include pieces by Erykah Badu and Jill Scott.

“The content [of Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem] was so relevant. This isn’t a period piece, this is an all the time piece,” Capitman said.

Capitman expects the play to inspire others to seek out black art and perform more African-American works. She also wants the work to move both women and men.

“I want women to walk away feeling inspired and … renewed and men [to have] some kind of understanding about who women are,” Capitman said.

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf will be held at the Freedom Theatre located at 1346 N. Broad St. The play will run from Nov. 21 to Nov. 22.The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $12 in advance or at the door.

Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling 617-378-1870.

Shari DaCosta can be reached at shari.dacosta@temple.edu.

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