BC Theatre Presents: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf
performances in robsham's bonn theater march 19-23
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (March 2014) – The Boston College Theatre Department presents For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf—an award-winning play which evokes the power of womanhood—in the Robsham Theater Arts Center’s Bonn Theater. Productions will take place March 19 through March 23.
Directed by Boston College Associate Professor of Theatre John Houchin, the production also features as guest artist Robbie McCauley—a nationally known performance artist and the University’s Monan Professor in Theatre Arts this semester.
As an actor in the 1976 Broadway production of For Colored Girls…, she brings first-hand knowledge of the play to her work with the eight-member BC cast. [More on McCauley below.] It is choreographed by Pam Newton, a dancer who has choreographed many University shows.
A dramatic and powerful work, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf is a series of 20 poems—called a “choreopoem” by author Ntozake Shange—and embraces the experience of all women of color. These “dark phrases of womanhood,” as Shange describes her poems, tell of the complications and sorrows, as well as the joys and hopes carried by these women.
“For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf was first performed in 1975,” said Houchin. “In her poems, Ntozake Shange told the story of black women who face the struggle to engage their lives as fully realized persons. Almost 40 years later this cast of Boston College women is giving their interpretation of how this poet’s voice speaks to them. I am really thrilled to have played a part in making this project happen.”
“The young women who have been cast for the Boston College production show an impressive range of talent and intelligence in their work on Ntozake Shange’s now-classic play,” McCauley added. “When I was honored to participate in its Broadway production over three decades ago, I knew we were in a revolutionary cultural moment, but did not imagine how relevant its themes would remain, not only ‘for colored girls,’ but for the society- at-large.”
For Colored Girls… includes music and dance, and presents the audience with an intimate vision of the decisions, loves and prayers that the women take on throughout their lives. Each character faces unique challenges: one finds herself thrown onto a riverboat stage, roiling with drunken white gamblers. Another, a dancer who “kept smilin and right on steppin,”deals with an ill-fated partnership. A third young woman’s life is changed due to an attack by someone she thought was a friend. Issues of race, gender and identity are explored in a passionate, rhythmical voice throughout the play; each character uses dance and poetry to move past adversity into a full life.
The play, which evolves from ancient mythologies of femininity and connects to the experiences of women living now, is inextricably bound to the poet’s own depth and personality. According to organizers, Shange mines the mislaid, difficult and misunderstood stories of deities, nannies, artists and others, and celebrates their steps, grimaces, struts and poems in an unforgettable piece of lyric theater.
“BC’s diverse cast, I think, continues to teach and learn with each other—which the play allows for—and to work diligently to enlighten and entertain,” McCauley said.
A bold and inspiring work, the New Yorker has praised the play as “a heartfelt statement on African American womanhood that resonates with all audience members.” It promises audiences that – if they have the strength to look for it - they, too, can find their rainbow.
Performances will be held on March 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m.; March 21 at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; March 22 at 7:30 p.m., and March 23 at 2 p.m. As of March 1, tickets can be purchased on line at www.bc.edu/offices/robsham or via phone at 617-552-4002. Adult tickets are $15 and $10 for students. Seating is very limited. Online information is available at www.bc.edu/theatre.
Robbie McCauley: BC J. Donald Monan, S.J. Professor in Theatre Arts
Robbie McCauley began her theater work in the late 1960s with Negro Ensemble Company in New York. In the mid-1970s, she was a member of the Broadway cast of For Colored Girls…. An OBIE Award playwright for her most famous work Sally’s Rape (1990), McCauley is an internationally recognized performance artist and director. Her most recent play, Sugar (directed by Maureen Shea at ArtsEmerson in Boston) received wide critical acclaim, and for her performance, an IRNE Award. It chronicles her lifelong struggle with diabetes along with accounts of the role of slavery in the Caribbean sugar trade.
She has combined writing, directing and performing with a career as a teacher at City College of New York, Hunter College, Mount Holyoke College, University of Massachusetts and most recently at Emerson College (where she is now a professor emeritus). She is a pioneer in an innovative mode of theatrical performance that has become commonplace in 21st century American theater: the use of personal and family narratives to create an extended monologue that is written and presented by a solo performer.
As Monan professor in Theatre Arts at Boston College this semester, McCauley joins the For Colored Girls… production as dramaturg and acting teacher. Named for University Chancellor and former Boston College President J. Donald Monan, SJ, the professorship enables the Theatre Department to bring nationally and internationally recognized professional theater artists to work with, and teach, undergraduate students at the University.
--Office of News & Public Affairs