Kayla M. Sutter
Spirits were high on Monday night, as the cast of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide, When The Rainbow Is Enuf” gathered for rehearsal.
The production, directed by Professor of Theatre Susan P. O’Hearn, will run from April 19-23 at 8 p.m., and April 24 at 2 p.m. in the Smith-McFarland Theatre in the Fine and Performing Arts Building.
“‘For Colored Girls..’ combines poetry, music and dance into a lyrical ‘choreopoem’ that weaves interconnected stories of life, empowerment, struggle and loss into a complex representation of sisterhood,” according to the description on ESU’s website.
The cast consists of seven females, all named after the colors of the rainbow.
Ntozake Shange originally wrote “For Colored Girls” in 1974, as a collection of separate poems.
The production first appeared on Broadway in 1976, and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play.
The piece has been performed on and off Broadway, and has been adapted into a book and a movie. Each of the play’s female characters have experienced their own personal hardships, and tell the story of how their lives were affected.
“The author specifically put the word suicide in the title, because she had attempted suicide several times after she had had a terrible breakup of her marriage, and didn’t know which direction her life was going to take,” O’Hearn explained.
“It is also a phenomenon within black culture that black women are prone to depression, prone to suicidal tendencies, so she was writing this for them.”
The choreopoem identifies and explains the many hardships and struggles African American women face, such as racism, rape, abortion, sex and heartbreak.
“A lot of people think that for colored girls is only for black audiences, and it’s not, it really is a piece for all people, all women,” said Taylor Torres, senior at ESU, who plays the role of Lady in Blue.
“My character goes through a lot of emotional things that make her very angry, in one of the pieces she talks about the fact that she had an abortion, so that is really emotionally taxing on her.”
Torres, who is very excited to perform this piece in front of an audience, has connected with this play in the past.
“I wanted to audition for this- not just because I’m a theater major…I read this play when I was in eleventh grade and even though I didn’t understand it as fully as I do now, it still had an impact on me. So, when we found out that we were doing this, I wanted to do it for the fact that I know it and I think it sends a strong message,” explained Torres.
“Now that I have gone though the rehearsal process, I am even more excited to do it just to get the message out to everybody, since more than a few people could be affected by it.” This play identifies and explains the causes and effects of many difficult topics that are important in society. Although it is about the negatives, it also highlights the positives.
“The show is trying to say that you have the power to change the way your life goes. If your life is seeming low or if these crazy things are happening, its up to you to either stay there and stay in the sorrow, or to get up and rejoice and try to go for something else,” explained Destiny Deshawn Washington, a junior majoring in musical theater, who plays Lady in Brown.
O’Hearn spoke about the meaning of the play, and the challenges her and her cast faced bringing forward the play’s true emotion: “What she [the author] was truly writing was a story that would raise women up from the adversity, pain, and anguish that they might feel in their life, given their mistreatment and anguish of a life circumstance beyond their control. The triumph over such adversity, thus finding their rainbow.”
“To me the challenge has been balancing not only the difficult times, the anguish and hardship, but that there is always a way – if one can persevere, if one can find their way through that tunnel, they will find their way to that rainbow. And that is the joyous and glorious resurrection of these women. So it isn’t all about sadness and pain and longing- but that is so much of life,” said O’Hearn.
The play put the cast through the journey of figuring out challenging characters, and also, has brought the cast of seven together, forming a special bond.
“One thing I love most about being in this production is how close all of us girls have become; It’s seven girls and we see each other everyday, and we have just become such a huge family. I’ve never worked in a production where there wasn’t some drama. We are so close,” explained Victoria Silva, freshman, who plays Lady in Green.
“I think it is extraordinary; the play, my actresses, the fact that we are having the first African American and Latino cast ever in the history of ESU’s theatre department,” O’Hearn said.
With opening night approaching, the cast is experiencing pre-show emotions.
“I’m very excited, but nervous, because I’ve done preview shows here at ESU and this is like a big step because I’ve never done a show as powerful with such moving stories,” said ESU freshman Angelica Ramirez, who plays Lady in Purple.
“We started production in February, the day after the Fantastiks ended. I really like working with females alone because we get that closeness… there is a different kind of atmosphere in the room,” explained Cherval Royster, sophomore, who plays Lady in Orange.
“I think it is extraordinary; the play, my actresses, the fact that we are having the first African American and Latino cast ever in the history of ESU’s theatre department,” O’Hearn said. With opening night approaching, the cast is experiencing pre-show emotions.
“I’m very excited, but nervous, because I’ve done preview shows here at ESU, and this is like a big step because I’ve never done a show as powerful with such moving stories,” said ESU freshman Angelica Ramirez, who plays Lady in Purple.
“I am most excited to inspire someone, ultimately, that’s why I do what I do,” said Ayuana Rosario, sophomore, who plays Lady in Yellow.
“To me the challenge has been balancing not only the difficult times, the anguish and hardship, but that there is always a way –if one can persevere, if one can find their way through that tunnel, they will find their way to that rainbow. And that is the joyous and glorious resurrection of these women. So it isn’t all about sadness and pain and longing— but that is so much of life,” said O’Hearn.
Tickets for “For Colored Girls…” are available at the Fine and Performing Arts Center box office, which is will be open April 18-22 from 2-4 p.m. Please bring cash or check only, or purchase tickets online with a credit card at esu.edu/theatretickets.
General admission tickets will be $12
Faculty/staff and senior citizens (with ID) will be $10 Students (with ID) will be $7. Youth tickets will be $5
Wednesday night’s performance is Club Night.
Any ESU student who is a member of a fraternity, sorority or an SAA – recognized organization will pay a reduced rate of $5 for that performance only.
Please wear or bring some club clothing or identification.
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