for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf Additional Summary

Ntozake Shange


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

For colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf is Shange’s first, and most acclaimed, theater piece. It is not really a play in that it has no continuous plot or conventional development; it consists, rather, of a series of poetic monologues to be accompanied by dance movements and music—a form Shange calls the “choreopoem.” Shange originally wrote the monologues as separate poems in 1974, then began performing them in California with choreography and musical accompaniment under their collective title. After moving to New York City, she continued work on the piece, which opened on Broadway to an enthusiastic reception in 1976.

The play is performed by seven women, each dressed in a different color. In the introduction, the Lady in Brown describes the purpose of the piece as to “sing a black girl’s song/ bring her out to know herself.” The majority of the poetic monologues describe relationships between black women and black men. The Lady in Yellow describes her loss of virginity the night after her high school graduation; the Lady in Brown tells of the first boyfriend she had, at the age of eight. Harboring a secret crush on Toussaint Louverture, the eighteenth century Haitian patriot, the eight-year-old girl finds herself attracted to a young boy, also named Toussaint. The Lady in Red describes “the passion flower of southwest los angeles”—a woman who seduces men, then rejects them.

In a contrapuntal passage, three of the women...

(The entire section is 618 words.)


(Drama for Students)

dark phrases
The play opens with seven women dressed in the colors of the rainbow plus brown, running onto the stage from...

(The entire section is 1228 words.)