Black girls with father issues, social and sexual outcasts, and feminist, have upheld Ntozake Shange as their earthly god mother. The motherless children curled up in the fetal position to “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf”. Shange’s magnum opus was a self-help, realization of the original Vagina Power that gave these devotees a voice. This choreopoem is the bible for any emerging poet/writer/playwright/lover of words. Coffee houses around the country reverberated with pulsating rhythms of Shange’s influence.
the uncapitalized/no punctuated lines/forward slashes/n/abbreviated wds captivated these women. A voice unheard of in the poetry community for women prior to the 1970s-this raw, unkept, nappy headed voice has justified many a woman’s relationship issues. Even Ms. Window Seat herself got in the act with her Bag Lady homage.
The first full length play I directed in college was For Colored Girls (Who didn’t direct this play?). I was curious as to why there were no men physically in the play. I felt like men got a bad rap because we, the audience, couldn’t see them for what they were really doing. We only heard the accounts through another woman’s voice. So I added men to the play. Yeah, maybe I wasn’t such a feminist after all.
But oh Tyler Perry is a feminist. He’s gotta be. He has made his living from giving women the voice silenced after Ms. Shange’s departure from the literary world. He’s heard the cries-women were tired. TIRED! Eventually he knew that the films he produced had to step out of the drag shadows of a gun-tottin’ grandma and become well…real. So when stories of filmmaker Nzingha Stewart writing and directing the film version of For Colored Girls began to surface-the ultimate of a black woman’s lament-Perry had to squeeze his hand over the idea and shell out the dough (which he has PLENTY of) to make that poem a filmed reality.
What’s fascinating is that these same down-trodden women who spent money on head wraps and cowrie shells are now business executives/lawyers/doctors/artists. They are past those hungry days of finding oneself. Some of these women actually support 34th Street Films. I support his endeavors. I know…shock. But for different reasons.
So why should I hate on it? The New York Times interviewed Ms. Shange; “I think it’s very good,” was Ms. Shange’s unhesitant verdict on Mr. Perry’s adaptation. “He kept a lot of my language, that’s what I liked most.” She seems positive.
You know there will be a lot of skeptics. Mainly because the language and choreopoem style are difficult. The rhythm is that of it’s own world. But Tyler Perry isn’t on trial here. It’s the skeptics that have held this work to a high esteem. I’m not saying that’s the wrong thing to do. But has Ms. Shange actually written anything as large as For Colored Girls since? This Obie winning drama has been sitting on shelves of bookstores as one of the few theatre works for Black artist. Why are we so quick to dog out Perry for wanting to revitalize this work? Regardless of how he attained it. That’s always his M-O. He revitalizes forgotten Black Hollywood.
One of the themes I explored in my staged version is the god that the “voice” of these 7 women in For Colored Girls found by the end of the piece. “i found god in myself and i loved her/i loved her fiercely.” This trailer seems too heavy. I read somewhere that it feels like “The Women of Brewsters Place.” I am not a fan of the trailer but I think we should lay off of T.P...another shock.
I’m not saying I support the idea but what are we really gripping about? He listened to the woes and gnashing of the teeth. He said he’d “step it up.” So-what is it now? I may have chuckled at Meda Goes to Jail or raised a smile at one of his other shows. But I can honestly say…ok. Give the man a break. I really don’t care what he decides to do. He has the money to continue to make the films he wants. I’m so over the conversation about is he “worthy” enough to produce this film or that. I don’t feel any sort of way about it. It’s done, it will continue to be done. Move on people.
Through the sorrow and pain of these women’s trails and tribulations…there was an uplifting realization at the end. We shall see how this all pans out. Until then…check out the trailer.