Born Paulette Williams October 18, 1948, in Trenton, New Jersey, Ms. Shange studied at Barnard College and the University of Southern California. Two years before earning her master's in American Studies at the latter, she changed her name to the Zulu name Ntozake ("she who comes with her own things") Shange ("who walks like a lion"). "As a feminist, I thought it was ridiculous to be named after a boy," she told The New York Times in 1994.
Shange's for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf opened on Broadway at the Booth Theatre September 15, 1976, following a run at The Public Theater. The production, arranged and directed by Oz Scott and choreographed by Paula Moss, played five previews and 742 performances before closing on July 16, 1978. The production would go on to be nominated for two Tony Awards, with Trezana Beverley winning for Best Featured Actress in a Play.
Filled with passion, humor, and raw honesty, legendary playwright-poet Ntozake Shange’s form-changing choreopoem tells the stories of seven women of color using poetry, song, and movement. With unflinching honesty and emotion, each woman voices her survival story of having to exist in a world shaped by sexism and racism.
A revival at The Pubic Theater, directed by Obie winner Leah C. Gardiner with choreography by Camille A. Brown, began performances October 8.
Look Back at Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf
For Colored Girls starred Trezana Beverley as Lady in Red, Laurie Carlos as Lady in Blue, Risë Collins as Lady in Purple, Aku Kadogo as Lady in Yellow, Janet League as Lady in Brown, Paula Moss as Lady in Green, and Shange as Lady in Orange.
The play returned to its roots at The Public Theatre in an acclaimed revival directed by Obie winner Leah C. Gardiner with choreography by Camille A. Brown. The production played an extended engagement Off-Broadway from October 8, 2019 through December 15.