The arrival of this DVD is highly anticipated in the UK for the many fans who missed the brief release of For Colored Girls in select cinemas at the end of 2010. And Tyler Perry’s translation of Ntozake Shange’s timeless 1975 Tony-nominated choreopoem (dance-infused cycle of poetic monologues) and Broadway smash does not disappoint.
While I have since discovered that many American’s celebrate this core text; I first discovered the play when British playwright Rikkie Beadle-Blair mentioned it when I interviewed him in 2005.
Fascinated by the title, I rushed to buy the play and was enraptured in its beautiful dialect. It left me with a refreshing imprint of the possibilities of theatre and the universality of women’s lives across generations.
As writer, Director and Producer, Perry rose to the challenge of taking this classic to the next level evoking some great imagery. He cleverly constructs an emotive script incorporating Shange’s verse.
His ensemble cast is compelling and stellar: Janet Jackson (Jo/Red), Whoopi Goldberg (Alice/White), Phylicia Rashad (Gilda/Gray), Thandie Newton (Tangie/Orange – the role formally assigned to Mariah Carey prior to her pregnancy), Loretta Devine (Juanita/Green), Anika Noni Rose (Yasmine/Yellow), Kimberly Elise (Crystal/Brown), Tessa Thompson (Nyla/Purple), and Kerry Washington (Kelly/Blue).
But they shine not in their reality as stars, but in their roles as star crossed lovers who have loved and lost or are still losing. In the galaxy that they share, the stars are shot down by men from Mars; largely alien in their actions.
In an environment where men are mainly antagonists, it is inevitable that the female protagonists whose lives are interconnected will dance in unison armed with poetry as their weaponry.
But through the violence, infidelity and abuse that the film depicts, it avoids male bashing. Indeed there are exceptions to the extremes; the spectrum of male characters is as vivid as the rainbow of engagingly authentic female characters represented on screen by distinct colors and personalities.
The pot of gold awaiting these women is sisterhood; a sisterhood which shares testimonies in draining relationships, in choices, in empowerment and in self-healing. The pot of gold for the audience is a treasure trove of a film which is poignant instead of preachy and which shares lessons that are as relevant today as they were 30 years ago. The play took my breath away and the film has stung me in the same way.
For Colored Girls is out on DVD on 4 April
Price: £15.99 RRP
Special features: span of the rainbow, prism of poems, transformation: movie magic, music for colored girls, marketing archive
The UK Corner covers urban entertainment from a British perspective and is written by Fiona McKinson ©. She is a freelance journalist and creative writer based in London. Contact her at [email protected]