For colored girls . . . was not originally intended for a juvenile or young adult audience. Its themes include abortion, rape, and domestic violence, and several of the poems also include adult language. Nevertheless, the work has much to offer young adults, particularly in helping them to think through some of the important issues that African American women and girls confront in their daily lives. In addition to showing how these characters are separated from mainstream America, however, Shange also makes clear how the problems encountered by her characters are similar to those faced by persons from all backgrounds.
The choreopoem was not written all at once with its present structure and production strategy in mind. Rather, it grew out of a series of poetry readings and dance performances that Shange and another dancer, Paula Moss, gave in the San Francisco area in the early 1970’s. The performances originally took place in bars, coffee shops, and small college venues, and the poems and choreography developed and changed considerably over time. When local success led Shange to take the show to New York in 1975, she settled on which poems were to be included and in what order, enlisted the services of a director, and hired additional actress/dancers, bringing the total to seven. This rather unusual evolution of the work leads to some interpretive difficulties for readers of the work.
Perhaps the first difficulty to be overcome, one that would not pose a problem for a theatrical audience, is...
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