NEW YORK – Actor, poet and writer Ntozake Shange, whose most attentive theater is Tony Tony-nominated game "For colored girls…
NEW YORK – Actor, poet and writer Ntozake Shange, whose most attentive theater is Tony Tony-nominated game “For colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is Enuf” died on Saturday according to her daughter. She was 70 years old.
Shange’s “For Colored Girls” describes racism, sexism, violence and rape experienced by seven black women. It has been influential for generations of progressive thinkers, from #MeToo architect Tarana Burke to Pulitzer award winning dramatist Lynn Nottage. After reading Shange’s death, Nottage called her “Our Warrior-Poet / Dramatist”.
Savannah Shange, anthropology professor at the University of California in Santa Cruz, said Saturday that her mother died in her sleep at an assisted living in Bowie, Maryland. She had suffered a series of strokes in 2004.
“She spoke for and actually embodied the ongoing struggle of the black woman and girls to live with dignity and respect in the context of systemic racism, sexism and oppression,” Savannah Shange said.
“For Colored Girls” is a interwoven series of poetic monologues intended for music ̵
1; Shange coined in the form of a “choreopoem” for it – of African American women, identified only by a color she carries. 19659006] Shange used idiosyncratic puncture and nonstandard spelling in her work, challenging conventions. One of her characters cries, “I will raise my voice / & scream & holler / & break things and compete the engine / & tell us all the secrets of themselves to face.”
It featured about 750 performances on Broadway – just the second play of an African-American woman after “A Raisin in the Sun” – and was transformed into a movie by Tyler Perry with Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose, Kerry Washington and Janet Jackson.
Born Paulette Williams in Trenton, New Jersey, she continued her degree from Barnard College and received a master’s degree from the University of Southern California. Her father, Paul T. Williams, was a surgeon. Her mother, Eloise Owens Williams, was a professor of social work. She later adopted a new zulu name: Ntozake means “She who comes with her own things” and Shange means “She who walks like a lion.”
“For Colored Girls” opened at the Public Theater in central Manhattan with Shange, since 27, performing as one of the women. The New York Times reviewer called it “extraordinary and wonderful” and “a very humble but inspiring thing for a white man to experience.” It earned the Shange an Obie Award and she won another such awards in 1981 for her adaptation of Bertolt Brechts. “
Shanges other 15 plays include” A Photograph: A Study of Cruelty “(1977),” Boogie Woogie Landscapes ” , “Spell No. 7 “(1979) and” black and white two-dimensional plan “(1979).
Her list of published works contains 19 poetry collections, six novels, five children‘s books and three essays of papers. Some of her novels are” Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo ” (1982) and “Some Sing, Some Cry” with her sister Ifa Bayeza. Her poetry collections include “I Live in Music” (1994) and “The Sweet Breath of Life: A Poetical Story of the African American Family” (2004). appeared in an episode of “Transparent” and helped tell the 2002 documentary “Standing in Motown Shadows.”
She worked with such black theater companies as the Lorraine Hansberry Theater in San Francisco; New Freedom Theater in Philadelphia; Crossroads Theater Company in New Brunswick, New Jersey; St. Louis Black Rep; Penumbra Theater in St Paul, Minnesota; and Ensemble Theater in Houston, Texas.
Shange taught at Brown University, Rice University, Villanova University, DePaul University, Prairi e View University and Sonoma State University. She also lectured at Yale, Howard, New York University, among others.
In addition to her daughter and sister, Shange survives by sister Bisa Williams, brother Paul T. Williams, Jr. and a grandson, Harriet Shange-Watkins.
Mark Kennedy is available at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
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