When the rainbow is enuf

Saturday 11th –Wednesday 15th June (excluding Sunday)

The Macmillan Room, The Oxford Union


Tickets £7 (£4 for Union members)

Footprint Theatre, in association with Picnic Productions and the Oxford Union, presents, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf, a choreopoem written by the African American playwright and poet, Ntozake Shange.

Shange has been hailed as one of the great American writers of the 20th century. In this piece she takes inspiration from the endless myths created around women who are labelled by their colour, gender and sexuality from antiquity to the present day and from stories passed down through generations. Through a series of monologues, some funny, some deeply painful, Shange explores identity, survival and individuality.

I first discovered the play eight years ago and was immediately struck by Shange’s ability to reach across the boundaries of race, sex, culture and experience as she explores what it means to be human as we face the trials of daily life. Combined with the play’s direct, unforgiving, but equally celebratory nature, I was instantly inspired and wanted to put together its first production in Oxford.

Ntozake Shange began writing the poems that make up the play in 1974, with the aim of presenting the realities of seven different kinds of women growing up in America during the mid twentieth century. She states that the play is an exploration of “their triumphs and errors, and their struggle to become all that is forbidden by their environment, all that is forfeited by their gender, all that they have forgotten.” The characters in the play remain nameless and assume hegemony as dictated by the fullness of their lives. They are each identified only by a colour of the rainbow, displaying Shange’s use the term “coloured” as a metaphor for emotions and states of mind, rather than simply skin tone.

This production aims to bring to life Shange’s poetic and political reflections on identity, sexuality, abuse, racism, and choice, issues that cannot be constricted by period or place. The characters directly interact with the audience as they share the stories of their survival through poetry, music, dance, and their intimate personal experiences, whilst each woman strives to find her voice in a world that silences her.

Maisie Richardson-Sellers