Introduction: Singing a “Black Girl’s Song” at Barnard and Beyond

it is possible to start a phrase with a word and end with a gesture/ that’s how I’ve lived my life/ that’s how I continue to study /produce black art —Ntozake Shange, “why I had to dance”[1] In the academic year 2012-2013, renowned poet, performance artist, playwright, and novelist Ntozake Shange, Barnard class of 1970, […]

the survival and the remaking: Interview with Performer Robbie McCauley on black history, universality, and for colored girls

Obie-Award-winning playwright, performer, and Emerson College Professor Emerita Robbie McCauley speaks about her 30-year range of experiences with for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf. Emphasizing the context of Shange’s choreopoem in black/American history and culture, Professor McCauley shares her thoughts on being a member of the play’s Broadway […]

Black Feminist Collectivity in Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf

Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf opens with a poem entitled “dark phrases.” The first stanza reads: dark phrases of womanhood of never havin been a girl half-notes scattered without rhythm/ no tune distraught laughter fallin over a black girl’s shoulder it’s funny/ it’s hysterical the […]

“walkin on the edges of the galaxy”: Queer Choreopoetic Thought in the African Diaspora

In her 1978 essay, “takin a solo/ a poetic possibility/ a poetic imperative,” Ntozake Shange interrogates literatures and criticism that submit to demands of racial representation over the possibilities of creative expression. Critiquing US literary culture’s tendency to reward writers whose voices reinforce prefabricated models of blackness, Shange observes that that, “if you are… female […]

Learning How to Listen: Ntozake Shange’s Work as Aesthetic Primer

What follows is a purely subjective analysis. The primer of my title refers to several meanings of the word: A prayer book or devotional manual for the use of lay people. A book that covers the basic elements of a subject. For over three decades, Ntozake Shange’s writing has been a source of pleasure and […]

Monologues for Colored Girls: Shange’s Influence on Barnard’s All Women-of-Color Vagina Monologues

these stains & scars are mine this is my space i am not movin —Shange, nappy edges, (a cross country sojourn) The first time I heard the name Ntozake Shange, I was still in high school. I was invited to attend a production of for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow […]

“Everything you do . . .”: Recipes from Ntozake Shange’s Art/Work

“Cooking is the oldest of the arts.” —Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste Cooking food and other rituals of daily life compose the corps/core of Ntozake Shange’s artistic praxis. This essay focuses on recipes as food for life in Shange’s performative art/work.[1] It analyzes her aesthetic practice as a form of nourishment and political empowerment. […]

Indigo Generations: Shange in Praxis and Being the Folk

i. write the names dedication and preparation Read this article when you have a moment to participate in your own legacy. Join me as I acknowledge what made this possible. Or come back later. Find a pen. Find a blank enough space to write. Ready? Do this for me. Write the names. Write the names […]

“There’s Trouble Out There”: Interview with Director Wole Oguntokun

Playwright-director Wole Oguntokun has been a major figure in contemporary Nigerian theater for over 15 years. As the artistic director of the Renegade Theatre, he directed groundbreaking productions, including a Yoruba version of The Winter’s Tale in London’s Globe theater as part of the Shakespeare Olympiad. He became the first Nigerian producer and director to […]

“I Think Good Theater Just Translates”: Interview with Playwright Mũmbi Kaigwa

Actor, playwright, and producer Mũmbi Kaigwa began her career in the arts at age ten, when she appeared in Wole Soyinka’s The Strong Breed on Kenyan television. Since then, she has performed in countless productions, ranging from Eric Wainaina’s musical, Mo Faya, to Fernando Meirelle’s film, The Constant Gardener. She appeared in the first Kenyan […]