By: Rachel Yuan
Online Section Writer
This weekend, the Black Theatrical Ensemble held their fall semester performance in the Fine Arts Theater. The Black Theatrical Ensemble allows students to participate in and learn all aspects of putting on a production, from acting to behind-the-scenes work. They strive to showcase Afro-centric theater, by performing works by black writers or about the African-American experience.
This semester, they performed Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf,” a choreopoem that combines a series of poetic monologues, music and dance movement. The piece follows the stories of seven nameless African-American women, identified by the colors of their skirts. The rainbow created by the Lady in Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Brown and Purple dances across the stage as emotional monologues detail the struggles specific to women, especially women of color.
Topics of unrequited love, abortion, rape, domestic violence and simply growing up and existing as a “colored girl” are broached in this performance. Not a conventionally formatted play, the women rotate in the telling of different, unconnected experiences of black women. In many cases, these utterly relatable stories were met with mumbles of agreement from the audience. Often, the intensely emotional and painful monologues left the audience holding back tears.
One scene in particular that was received with a lot of audience agreement had all of the women saying that their love was “too delicate/sanctimonious/beautiful to have thrown back in my face.” In a talkback with the cast after the performance, many audience and cast members agreed that most women can relate to giving their love to someone who did not deserve it.
In an especially electric moment, the Lady in Green performed “Somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff.” The monologue repeats this line over and over to emphasize her anger at a man for almost taking a piece of her identity away from her.
The final, and probably most painful, story is told by the Woman in Red. She details an abusive relationship, where a woman refuses to marry the father of her two children, so he drops the children out of a fifth story window.
The piece culminates in a song with all the women coming together, singing “I found god in myself / and I loved her fiercely.” After all of the hardships and grief presented in the preceding poems, the women begin “moving to the ends of their own rainbows,” presenting their resilience to hopefully inspire an audience of women of color to keep their strength throughout the oppressions that life will throw at them.