The Park School of Baltimore’s winter production continues a school tradition of performing theater that explores issues of race.
This year, Upper School students will direct and act in Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf. Shange’s captivating work, which premiered in 1975, is a series of 20 separate monologues accompanied by dance movements and music — described as a “choreopoem,” a term coined by Shange. Portraying seven nameless African American women from seven different American cities, the women are identified only by colors of the rainbow assigned to each. Their monologues share diverse perspectives on gender and race, which still ring true. An American playwright and poet, Shange addresses issues of race and feminism in much of her writing. for colored girls is her first and most well-known work, inspired by events in her own life.
Upper School theater teacher Peter King selected this play in part to help support a dialogue around race at Park. “The Black females in the group are finding their voices, some for the first time, and perhaps as importantly, the White males in the group are hearing those voices. We hope people inside and outside of the Park community will also hear these Black voices — so beautifully and powerfully written by Ms. Shange 40 years ago — because they matter,” King said.
Following the Friday night performance, the cast and crew will participate in an informal conversation, or talkback, moderated by Dr. Sheri Parks, Associate Dean for Research, Interdisciplinary Scholarship, and Programming and Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland. Parks frequently appears in and on national and local media, commenting on popular culture, and has been a radio host on both WYPR and WTMD. “In the talkback, I look forward to engaging the community in the patterns and ideas present in the play and how they resound in the lives of Black women. I have admired the ability of Park’s theater program to take on risky productions. The staging of A Raisin in the Sun and Clybourne Park were both aesthetically and culturally successful, and inspired a frank conversation about redlining in Baltimore,” Parks said. Parks will draw upon her deep experience with this play and her scholarship on art and marginalized people to spark a dynamic conversation between the artists and audience.
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