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Theatre Book Club

Episode #6: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow is Enuf with Ogemdi Ude

In our sixth week of Theatre Book Club with Katie Birenboim, we will be discussing Ntozake Shange’s revolutionary theatrical piece/choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow is Enuf.  When the play ran first in Berkeley, California and then at the Public in New York City and eventually on Broadway in 1976, For Colored Girls burst the theatrical scene wide open.  Not only was its style unlike anything Broadway audiences had seen at the time (Shange actually coined the term “choreopoem” for the play, which is staged as a series of monologues accompanied by dance and music), but also for many women of color, it was one of the first theatrical pieces which they could identify as solidly “theirs,” a symbol of what it meant to be a woman, and black, in the United States.  Indeed, For Colored Girls has been revived and adapted multiple times over, made into a major motion picture, and continues to be done near constantly in schools, community theatres, even prisons around the country. A content warning: the play deals with subjects like domestic abuse, rape, and abortion, so keep that in mind before reading and tuning in.  Our discussion about these subjects, however, is sure to be thoughtful and considerate, given that my guest is the talented and whip smart choreographer and theatre maker, Ogemdi Ude. Fresh off a year as a fellow at NYU’s Center for Ballet and the Arts, Ogemdi intertwines movement, text, sound, and visual art to investigate how black folks’ cultural, familial, and personal histories are embedded in their bodies and influence their everyday and performative movement.  She was one of the first friends I made in college, and is simply the best.  Let’s read!

Each week, Katie will feature a new guest from the theatre community and discuss either the guest’s favorite play/musical or a play/musical with which they have been highly involved professionally.  Katie and her guest will discuss questions they had in reading the play, the transition from the reading of a play to putting it on its feet in performance, and interact with the audience: like the casual, theatre book club you never had!

Age group: High school and up.

Instagram: @kbirenboim

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