For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / when the rainbow is enuf: poetry and movement beautifully fused

Penumbra, through Oct 14

The Ensemble in FOR COLORED GIRLS. Photo by Allen Weeks.

The Penumbra Theater’s production of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf is nothing short of an immersive feat and it’s an experience not to be missed. The play is actually a series of choreographed poems presented as monologues by a cast of seven women identified only by the colors of the rainbow. Described as a choreopoem by award-winning poet Ntozake Shange who debuted the piece in 1974, the work has gone onto be performed countless times and continues to resonate deeply with modern audiences.

Shange’s masterpiece dared to do what very little art had done up to then, provide a platform for women of color to speak of their experiences.  The themes of the play include hope, the oppression women of color face and continue to face on a daily basis, sexual assault, and the perseverance and strength of women.

These sometimes hard to face truths are brought boldly to life through exquisitely choreographed interpretive sequences that meld dance, poetry, and movement together while sticking to a cohesive underlying storytelling structure.

The Penumbra’s production of For Colored Girls…is directed by Sarah Bellamy and Lou Bellamy and the play runs through October 14th. Ananya Chatterjea is the person behind the fluid yet powerful choreography that ties the entire show together.

Each member of the cast is named only as a color, but each color has a unique personality and a powerful story to tell, presenting both heartbreaking and uplifting moments speckled with laughter and smiles. Khanisha Foster, the Lady in Blue, has had the pleasure of performing in two past productions of the show and is a tour de force in the role. Ahshe Jaafaru, who plays the Lady in Brown, is incredibly charismatic along with Rajné Katurah Brown, who played the Lady in Yellow. Both Brown and Jaafaru’s performances elicited laughter from the audience with their playfulness and bright energy.

The show also deals heavily with rape, abuse and the problem with society’s blind eye, and it’s in Audrey Park’s performance as the Lady in Red toward the end of the play that these issues are played out gut-wrenchingly on the stage.

And yet, at the end, hope and strength prevail.

This is not a show for the casual theatergoer, it’s a production that will keep you mesmerized by the tragedy, beauty, and seamless movement of it all.


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