Entertainment » Theatre

for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Feb 20, 2018
Tonasia Jones, Kerline Desir, Dayenne C. Byron Walters, Ciera-Sadé Wade, Thomika Birdwell, Karimah Williams, and Verna Hampton in Praxis Stage's production of 'for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf'
Tonasia Jones, Kerline Desir, Dayenne C. Byron Walters, Ciera-Sadé Wade, Thomika Birdwell, Karimah Williams, and Verna Hampton in Praxis Stage's production of 'for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf'  (Source:Roberto Mighty)

The loosely structured contours of Ntozake Shange's acclaimed 1974 "choereopoem" allows for multiple perspectives, approaches, and even genres within the framework of a single work of theater. The seven characters in the Praxis Stage production of "for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf" are clad (by costumer Cassandra Cacoq) in prismatic hues that remind us of Shange's original intentions; by "colored girls," Shange "meant 'people of color,' " a quote from the author in the program states. "The first group I work with was black, white, Asian, and Native American." The text itself makes reference to this; on a few occasions you'll hear a character celebrate her Latinx roots.

The play's origins might reside in 1974, but this production is of and for 2018, a year of "Me Too" and "Black Lives Matter," talk of "woke" allies and greater media representation, and the dangers of an increasingly toxic cultural hegemony that's starting to lose its mind right along with its ferocious grip. There's nothing not familiar in these monologues about abusive boyfriends, institutionalized rape, men on the down low and the threat of HIV transmission they thoughtlessly pose, a negligent socio-economic order, cultural (and personal) appropriation, generational suffering, and hints of mockery for a color-obsessed class system that's both fearful of, and fascinated with, the bright and vibrant hues of creativity that fall outside a dreary (and self-rewardingly moralistic) monochrome.

Fittingly, the show offers a melange of performance styles and personalities. Director Dayenne C. Byron Walters lets these actors transform as kaleidoscopically as the colors they wear. W. Lola Remy's choreography feels a little kaleidoscopic, too, as the movement and dance that propels the different monologues brings kinetic dynamism to the show.

Though we haven't got characters or dramatic arcs as such, we do have a panoply of experience drawn from around the United States. There's biting wit, ferocious determination, undercurrents of anger, and terrible strains of grief running through these monologues, but there are also many bright spots. Year after year minorities -- and women of color in particular -- bear up under abuse and the failures of a dismissive white patriarchy. But to survive and flourish is the ultimate victory: Humor, hope, solace, and strength carry the day.


"for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf" continues through Feb. 25 at Hibernian Hall in Dudley Square. For tickets and more information, please to go https://www.praxisstage.com/for-colored-girls

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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