This past weekend, a group of UR students proved once again that if there is a will, there is a way. On Friday, April 13, Drama House was packed for the opening night of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf,” a choreopoem written by Ntozake Shange to highlight the many struggles of black women.
The production was a completely student-run initiative. Sophomore Makia Green directed, sophomore Erica Williams was the producer, sophomore Kathy Edouard was the business manager, sophomore Lakiesha Holyfield was the assistant director and sophomore Asia Ingram and senior Kimberly Campbell choreographed the show.
Green and Williams were the masterminds behind the entire project. The idea came to them on a routine Saturday trip to Wegmans Plaza. They stopped at Borders, where they found two copies of the play for 69 cents. After reading the poems and watching the movie, they were determined to bring the production to campus. At first, their vision was just of a group of women on stools reading different parts of the play, but that quickly changed as they realized that they had more support than they had originally anticipated.
The girls received sponsorship from several organizations, including Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated and the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women Studies, among others. All proceeds from the performance went to the Alternatives for Battered Women organization.
The program began with all of the ladies on stage, all of them looking lovely in their dresses, each one was a different color to represent the characters in the show. The play was divided into two distinct parts. The first was about awareness and bringing to light many of the issues facing minority women, and the second was focused on acceptance, healing and moving on.
From the beginning to end, the performance was filled with several memorable moments, one being when Lady in Orange, played by sophomore Zeleyka Fowler, took the stage. She performed a combination of a poem and dance number with a Latin influence, which was all about the power of movement. It spoke of dance being used as a means of expressing oneself when words are not enough, and as a form of coping and survival.
Freshman Christine Wright, who played Lady in Blue, performed a piece entitled “Abortion.” The words of this poem were raw and uncensored when they spoke of a girl who had a backyard, under-the-table style abortion. Although the words themselves were powerful, they were nothing compared to the pure emotion Wright brought to them, though. Everything from her facial expressions to her body language fully expressed the bone chilling pain any women in that situation would be feeling.
So many women have fallen victim to heinous sexual crimes, which is perhaps why the poem “Latent Rapist” hit home for several members of the audience. Many people assume that it is the creepy man in the black van whom they should fear, but it is often the father, the brother, the teacher, the friend, the men who are there to protect us, that end up being the greatest predators of all. The stranger we always expected could be the friend we never saw coming.
The evening was filled with several well-performed pieces, but the one that had everyone on the edge of their seats was the poem entitled, “Beau Willie Brown.” In this poem a woman is telling the story of when her deranged husband dropped their two perfectly healthy children out the window of their apartment, which just so happened to be located on the top floor of a high-rise apartment building. As one can imagine, this is a very dramatic, traumatic, horrific moment. This poem was performed by Lady in Red, RIT student, Melanie Wilkens McFalcon. She did a phenomenal job, drawing the audience in with every word. After the final line, an audible exhale could be heard throughout the crowd, and there was not a dry eye in the room. That poem was by far the highlight of the evening and it was also a testament to the power of spoken word.
The cast and production team will be presenting at this years Diversity Conference. There, they will be talking about the play, but will be focusing on the concept of inclusion. They also hope to use this opportunity to highlight the black female experience and answer the question of what it means to be a “colored girl.”
Calling this production a success would be an understatement. It is truly amazing to see a plethora of different people from different backgrounds and cultures, coming together to experience this production, which was also a celebration of the fact that a student can have an idea that can flourish and become a reality.
White is a member of the class of 2014.