‘For Colored Girls’
<p class="p1">What’s the purpose of theater but to hold a mirror up to nature and, through it, make the world a better place?
<p class="p3">At least that’s how Joy Pace sees it, and she carries this belief into her role as artistic director for Itinerant Theatre.
<p class="p3">Fresh off “The Vagina Monologues” — an episodic play that explored taboo topics like sex, rape and body image — Pace is tackling another set of issues with “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf,” written in 1974 about a group of women finding hope and community in the face of sexism and racism.
<p class="p3">“The writer at the time had been very down and depressed and considering suicide,” said Pace, explaining how the play came to be. “She was driving somewhere in California and saw this beautiful rainbow, and that’s when the title came to her. She thought, ‘Well, that’s enough to live for, something that beautiful.’ ”
<p class="p3">Seven local women came together to perform the roles, most of them with no acting experience to speak of. However, they’ve stepped into their roles “beautifully” and “brought an amazing truth” to the story, Pace said.
<p class="p3">The show will run today-Sunday at Central School Arts & Humanities Center, 809 Kirby St. Show times are today at 7 p.m., Friday at 8:30 p.m. following the Black Heritage Gallery opening, Saturday at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m.
<p class="p3">Shereka Jackson, performing Lady in Red, said one line in the play, “Somebody sing a black girl song,” rang especially true for her as she recently came to grips with a painful life event.
<p class="p3">“There’s a feeling I was experiencing that I could never put a title on,” Jackson said. “I couldn’t explain it to my husband, and I’m laying down and I’m crying, and in my head I heard her say, ‘Somebody sing a black girl song.’ I was like ‘Oh my god. I get it.’”
<p class="p3">Oftentimes, she said, women of color experience things they can’t identify or put into words because “we don’t really know our culture.” She said performances like this help fill in that gap.
<p class="p3">“For me, I went through a phase where I wasn’t white enough, I wasn’t black enough, so where do I fit in?” said Bianca Augustine, Lady in Brown.
<p class="p3">Augustine said most people hear the play’s title and focus on the word “colored” or “suicide.” But for her the key word is “enough.”
<p class="p3">“I’m pretty enough, I’m smart enough, I’m goofy enough, I’m dingy enough — I’m all that,” Augustine said. “I think we can all benefit from telling ourselves that.”
<p class="p3">Lady in Yellow, Sierra Demouchet, said growing up she was often the only black girl in her class or at any given event, making her feeling isolated and at odds with her identity — feelings, she said, the writer insightfully explored.
<p class="p3">“Her writing was bold, and it was honest,” Demouchet said. “It was like ‘I don’t have to hide that I’m black.’ It just resonated that I can be myself. I can be myself across the board.”
<p class="p3">Tasha Guidry, Lady in Purple, pointed out that even though the play itself highlights the experiences of black women, it’s something that all people can relate to — man or woman, black or white, old or young.
<p class="p3">“I commend the writer in the ‘70s for not killing herself and for pouring her grief and her frustration,” said Lady in Orange Hannah Barker. “She didn’t have an iPod or an app to make her feel better. She poured her human essence into this, and to me that’s amazing.”
<p class="p3">Above all, they said, the play has brought them together in ways they never expected, and they hope it does the same for others.
<p class="p3">“There’s a stereotype among black women that we can’t get along with each other,” Jackson said. “But this play shows otherwise. Especially in the midst of adversity, we come together, and together we’re at our strongest.
<p class="p3">Tickets are $15 for adults, $12.50 for seniors and $10 for students with a valid ID. They can be purchased at www.itineranttheatre.com or by calling the theater at 436-6275.