Final Draft: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide…

Please comment your reviews of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide… here.

3 Comments on “Final Draft: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide…

  1. Marisa Lenardson
    A story usually moves a person at its most climactic scene; tensions are high, and attachments are developed towards characters. It hurts to see them struggle or feels triumphant to watch them succeed. Five Town College’s production of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf manages to recreate these leaps of emotion in nearly every scene.

    Rather than telling a narrative story, For Colored Girls is a collection of poetic monologues about empowerment, self-worth, hardship, and the cultural experience of seven females of color. The monologues differ in degrees of poetry to prose, as well as speed but the actors’ work to distinguish their movement and tone prevents them from blending together.
    Choreographed movement within each piece embodies the characters and feelings being spoken by these women. If they describe someone sensual, they caress their hips and poise with confidence. If they’re sharing a story from childhood, they run with eagerness and express with wide eyes. When there are multiple actors onstage, they spread out symmetrically, in a way that utilizes the whole space. Though it was choreographed, the girls’ movements feel naturally developed in a way that never distracts from the words they speak.

    Costumes represent the colors of the seven characters: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, and Brown. They wear the same styled pants in their respective colors with black tops that vary slightly. Each has a headpiece in their color but it is a unique item for each woman. These outfits work to define them as a cohesive whole, united under the theme of the show, while allowing for individual expression. All of the actors walk barefoot; a choice that keeps them grounded to make their words feel more intimate. For Colored Girls has no linear plot or permanent setting, thus their outfits allow them to appear timeless.

    The impactful, yet subdued lighting only enhanced these costumes further. When one actor speaks, the lights on the backdrop would often complement their color. It wasn’t so dramatic that it overpowered the speaker and instead highlighted attention onto that actor. Rather than this light on the backdrop being widespread, it appears in pillars that line up with the pose’s actors were in. There was some inconsistency with this effect to match lights to each girl. However, this could be a choice made to add variation to the design. Actors were contrasted with a lot of dramatic up light on their faces which was effective until actors were unable to find their light. A notable moment revolving around light occurs as the seven girls are dancing around the stage and there is a sudden stop where they all drop to ground. All light fades out except for a bright red glow emitting from the staircase. This dramatic pause that interrupts the previous celebration leads to a tonal shift throughout the remainder of the show.

    Beneath the poetic monologues, are the accompanying instruments of a drum and saxophone. Sometimes they are used solo and other times used together. The drum feels linked to traditional cultural rhythm while the saxophone brings a presence of modern jazz to contrast the traditional with the new. Listening to them underneath the women’s voices made the work feel similar to a night of slam poetry. The instruments filled pauses in between breaths and provided a heartbeat for the delivery.

    Sound presented some challenges in fully appreciating the message from For Colored Girls. Multiple factors lead to difficulty hearing the monologues at times. The drums became a distraction when sometimes it was too loud or even caused feedback through the speakers. In certain parts, it felt that segments of monologues were rushed because they were intended to be delivered as intense, but words got muddled together. The drum and saxophone, while mainly a positive piece of the production, did feel confusing while being used in the same scene. The instruments were stronger solo and felt unnatural to be switched between so frequently. Music seemed to mostly play from stage right speakers which felt unbalanced.

    Regardless of costumes, movement, and lighting, For Colored Girls would never reach its successes without the passionate, gut-wrenching performances from the actors. Red has a particularly powerful ending that is so impactful because it felt the most unrestrained out of all of the monologues. After her emotionally charged scene, the cast gathers around Red on the stairs and begins to sing “I found god in myself and I loved her.” Unfortunately, the execution of this finale is weakened by imbalanced harmonies which pale in comparison to their earlier singing of “Killing Me Softly.” Despite this, the message still hits because it is a moment of somberness after dealing with emotional exhaustion.

    The power of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf is in the relatability it has to its audience. Five Town College raises messages of adversity and hope from the script to deliver them with thoughtfulness, vibrancy, and introspection that values the affect this show can have.

  2. When a person is given the opportunity to see a show with a cast made up entirely of triple-threats – they go see that show. Five Towns College’s showing of for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf features exactly that cast. In a series of poetic stories accompanied by rhythmic pulses of a drum beat and soothing jazz riffs from a saxophone, for colored girls tells the diverse (yet unifying) stories of seven black women identified only by the color of their clothing. The cast welcomes the audience to discover or affirm the troubles of not just black people, but women as well. Perhaps the best line to summarize the duality of the script was also one that could have easily been missed – “won’t no young man think I’m pretty in a dark morning.” The message of the show is clear – to rise above the societal confines of one’s gender and race in order to find love, and love oneself.

    While at times the live music and pre recorded sounds both seemed to inject themselves into the piece, sometimes at the detriment of the actors, the musician, sound team, and actors clearly have worked tirelessly to form a cohesive ensemble that, more often than not, contributes to the impact of the piece. Perhaps if the band had been located on stage or at a different location in the theatre, the problem would be remedied. However, this ultimately does not take away from the experience, as the music improved the production more often than it took away from it.

    This is in no small part due to the diction of the actors on stage. Each voice was clear, and yet still was performed in a convincing prose.

    If any of the actors had fallen short, it would have been jarring and obvious. But the performances given by each cast member of for colored girls was consistently impressive. The audience bought what they were selling, and emphasized with those characters because of it. They kept making us want more.

    Perhaps one of the most engaging components of the piece was the use of space. First, the actors were not confined to the limits of the stage. Aisles in both the center and sides of the auditorium were utilized. Each entrance or exit to the auditorium was utilized as such. The set was built in such a manner that we could have been anywhere at any time, and yet through a combination of visualization on the part of the actor and the use of movement across the entirety of the set, we knew where we were.

    for colored girls knows what it wants to be and then becomes it. While its largest flaw is some technical components pulling the audience out of the moment, it still accomplishes what it set out to be. Audiences will leave the theatre having been brought along an emotional and transformative experience for each character – and we enjoy seeing them go on those adventures, even when those adventures bring trauma to our protagonists. Because they persist. They still tell their stories. And it’s exactly what we need them to do.

  3. “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf” is a fluid choreopoem that rhythmically engulfs its audience through the use of minimalistic musical beats to tell stories of the African American experience through the eyes of 7 women. These poems and works varied in meaning and emotion, but were all impactful in many different ways. They ranged from pieces about love, loss, pain, and grief, but also strength in finding oneself. Each moment of the piece was thoughtfully crafted to keep the audience engaged without drawing attention away from the stories themselves. The use of music and dance as transitions between pieces only further enhanced the experience by touching the audience on an emotional level that simple words can’t. The piece was hauntingly enchanting, and impossible to look away from.

    As we arrived into the space, the stage was up made of raw materials displayed abstractly throughout the stage. Every level was utilized to its maximum potential, and was full of energy even when there was only one performer on stage. The use of basic colors to distinguish each performer brightened the space by contrasting the bare bones of the set, and the personalization of each outfit through the use of accessories gave us a sense of who these characters were despite the fact that they’re nameless. Not having the performers listed in a program helped further the point that these were just beings that exist to tell these stories rather than develop characters. We connected to them emotionally, not based on a personal journey through time, but through the use rhythm and poetry to portray life events of unnamed authors. It was truly a unique form of expression in the sense that this wasn’t a traditional play or musical.

    Some of the strongest moments of the piece happened when there was only one performer on that stage having her moment to tell her story. Off stage there was a drummer who would set the rhythm and tone of the excerpt, as well as emphasize specific words and emotions. After the show, the audience was buzzing with comments and opinions about each story. Ultimately the surrounding viewers concluded that the three most impactful stories included a piece on self discovery with the help of Toussaint L’Ouverture, a dance piece about a beautiful exotic dancer, and the emotional climactic piece about domestic abuse and loss. These three pieces were considered the most impactful because they were raw and authentic. They gave the audience something to ground themselves in, and allowed us to connect with the performers on such distinct personal levels that they simply couldn’t be ignored.

    Overall, the ensemble work that this cast provided was nothing short of commendable. The relationships between these women allowed for a more empowering and pure performance. Each actor brought a unique energy to their color characters, but managed to work so cohesively they were able to become one by the end of the piece.

    There’s really something to be said for these kinds of abstract pieces. They’re different, there’s no denying that. And they might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this production in particular allowed its students to shine through every aspect of their talent. These young women were the whole package, the “triple threat”. And they never fell short no matter how they pursued their story. This ensemble was able to overcome the difficulties of a new space, and while acoustically there were some issues, they rarely ever fell out of the scene which is highly commendable.

    This was a piece that spoke volumes, and it felt relevant despite it being over 40 years old. “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” sparks thoughtful conversation, and provokes a newfound appreciation for the internal and external struggles women of color have to face in America. The piece concluded with the notion that the cast found God inside themselves, learning to love and trust themselves, and knowing that they have the power to broaden their own horizons left the audience feeling empowered themselves. Five Towns College accomplished a complex portrayal of the importance of sisterhood and finding strength enough within oneself to push limits and challenge set expectations formed with a basis of oppression. It was the perfect blend of power and vulnerability that formed an impeccable work of art.

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