From the moment I saw this embedded in Seattle Slim's post - "For Colored Girls" Trailer Looks Good; Complaining Begins..." - I knew that, though I'd not watched a movie in its entirety since Tyler Perry's, "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," I would go and see this movie.
I have no issues with Mr. Perry's work in general, but depending on the Black person with whom you are speaking, he has become a pretty polarizing figure in the Black community. Some of it I get, some I don't. My main concern about his involvement in this project was - "Will he get it right?"
In my comment to Seattle Slim, I explained why:
Hey Seattle Slim!Shange's choreopoem came to me at a pivotal time in my young, Black womanhood - and it has never left me. As I listened to this video of her, explaining her life and her motivations - aside from the choreopoem's content - I understand much better, why it didn't:
No, "the play/choreopoem wasn't all rainbows and unicorn shit either," - but then again, it was
It is well worth reading - before the movie. It's really not that long (my cherished hardcover copy is barely an inch thick!) and I promise it'll help put the movie in perspective - if Tyler does it right (Full disclosure: I don't have issues with Tyler Perry's work in general).
I lived on the Atlantic side of Panama for two years in the early 90s (military move) and my sorors on the Pacific side decided to put "for colored girls..." on during Black History Month. I ran into one of them at the post exchange and they told me about the first meeting to discuss the production. After being there for 10 minutes I knew I wanted to be a part of this powerful expression of Black women's lives - and I wanted to be the "somebody almost walked of wid alla my stuff," Lady in Green. And I was.
I'd read Ntozake Shange's choreopoem already in high school, but being in the play was a much more moving, wonderfully empowering and cleansing experience - particularly since some years earlier, "a mr. louisiana hot link" HAD "tried to walk off wid alla my stuff!"
I went into the military to get far, far away from his ass before he "got away with me." I was so in love with this man who, by his actions, certainly hadn't loved me for some time, but my young, broken self couldn't see that. I had to remove myself, to heal myself. It was what I needed to take my "stuff" back - myself. The Lady in Green was already in me by the time I did the play. She was easy to call forth because we'd already shared so much.
No, "domestic violence, abortion, suicide, and all the other issues addressed in the book are not pretty." But depressing or not, it REMAINS the reality - whether or not people want to face it (which is probably WHY it remains the reality!).
Apologize for the long comment Seattle Slim, but you really hit a nerve - one I wish every one of my sisters would investigate "with all deliberate speed" because my sisters- "what you gotta do, you need your stuff to do it to!"
Though my father was no doctor, and we were certainly not "solid, upper-middle class," I not only share most of the joys about which she reminisced, but the strength of her beliefs -which we do have in common - as well. The unshakable love that I have for my people, coupled with a deep and abiding respect for our having survived our experiences in these United States - certainly "bruised, but not broken" - make it impossible for me not to be engaged with, and involved in, our continued struggle toward equality and freedom in this country. Doing so, is like Merriam-Webster's definition "b:" of manna to me - "divinely supplied spiritual nourishment.
Back to the film.
I am so glad that Loretta Devine has been cast as "The Lady in Green!" I have loved this woman's work since I saw her in the original play, "Dreamgirls" with Jennifer Holliday in the 80s, through her role as Gloria in "Waiting To Exhale" in the mid-nineties, to Marla Hendricks in "Boston Public" in 2000; to Patti in "Eli Stone" in 2008 (I know the whole, "seeing-the-future" premise was out there for some, but I wish they hadn't cancelled that show!). Now I don't know her personally, but I sure do like what she brings to her characters!
I'm gonna head on to the shower now to get ready for the 12:15 a. m. showing of the movie - because 1) I'm slow as molasses!; and 2) I really hate crowded theaters!
Here's Michel Martin interviewing Ms. Shange on NPR yesterday. Enjoy!: