Date of Award

2001

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Theatre/Dance

Advisor

Jane Snider

Second Committee Member

Marcia Douglas

Third Committee Member

Sandra Hardy

Abstract

White customs and values have traditionally monopolized commercial theatre. It is not until recently that theatre has taken on multicultural influences in order to incorporate minorities into the audience. There are many artists who have pushed beyond the barrier of modern traditional theatre and influenced their generation One of these artists has challenged not only traditional theatre, but also addressed gender and race issues as well, with controversial results. This artist is named Ntozake Shange and the play that received so much attention is for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf. This piece is intended to speak to women of color and to offer guidance for Black girls. The thesis covers a brief history of Shange's life and experiences into the piece. The paper also addresses Shange's intentions for the piece as it evolved from writing to production and then onto the Broadway stage. Shange termed her work a choreopoem that, by definition, incorporated music, dance, and poetry. Each of these three elements flow together creating a performance that is organic in nature. African storytelling, religion, dance, and music inspired the choreopoem. In order to demonstrate Shange's intentions for the piece, the thesis then describes each element of a choreopoem and analyzes Shange's use of it within for colored girls. Next, the paper discusses the play by analyzing the content of related poems in the piece. By doing this, the paper pulls out certain pieces of subject matter in order to prove Shange's intentions. As well as discussing the performance, the thesis briefly touches upon some critical reactions to the piece and influences it has had on the audience. By acknowledging the awards and impact the piece has had, this analyzes whether or not Shange's intentions were successful.

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