For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange
Published by: Scribner
Published on: November 2, 2010 (reprint)
Page Count: 96
My Reading Format: Audiobook purchased from Audible.com.
Audiobook Published by: Audible, Inc.
Narrator: Thandie Newton
Audiobook Length: 1 hour 59 minutes
Audiobook Sample: Not available here
Available Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, and Audiobook
From its inception in California in 1974 to its highly acclaimed critical success at Joseph Papp’s Public Theater and on Broadway, the Obie Award-winning for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf has excited, inspired, and transformed audiences all over the country. Passionate and fearless, Shange’s words reveal what it is to be of color and female in the twentieth century.
I picked up this audiobook while preparing for June is Audiobook Month. I knew my focus was going to be on listening outside of my comfort zone. Poetry is not something that typically grabs me. I have always had to work very hard at it, even for standard poetry. Having no past experience with choreographed poetry, I knew I could drown fast. At under two hours and with intriguing social commentary, I felt I could at least tread water through the experience.
The audiobook opened with an introduction from the author about how this work came into existence and how it grew into this modern version some 30 odd years later. This proved to be invaluable for me. Listening to its history unfold gave me a sense of place and purpose while listening to the narration. Thandie Newton, who has performed For Colored Girls onstage, did an excellent job with this audiobook. She gave each and every lady her own energy as the poetry told their stories. For those who may not know, these poems aren’t written from the perspective of many women. Each of the women who give their voice to this play are designated by a color. I think this use of color must be magnificent onstage, but this was one area of disconnect for me with the audiobook. The naming of the ladies by there color before they spoke was little more stage direction to me. Those who are more familiar with theater or the play itself probably wouldn’t have the same feeling that I did. For me as a listener, it didn’t matter which lady was speaking or telling her story. They could be told by any woman or every woman.
For Colored Girls is a lovely book full of insight, not all of which is comfortable. These women were not scared to set the record straight for themselves or for those who have held them down. While men are primarily in the spotlight, Caucasian women don’t come out unscathed. The poems that made it impossible for me not to see the advantages I have had simply because of my race that stand out the most when I remember this experience.
While Thandie Newton’s performance as narrator was excellent and I’m glad that I took a chance on the audiobook, I think the visual elements of this play are required to get the full experience. Still, I might not have ever considered seeing the play performed had I not picked up and listened to the audiobook. I would be curious to know how this audiobook has been received by those who have seen it performed first. I would suggest this audiobook for people looking for a little something different in their next audiobook experience as well as for those interested in women’s studies.