The Lycoming College Theatre Department presents “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf” April 8-11 at 8 p.m. in the Mary L. Welch Theatre, on Mulberry Street in Williamsport. This event is for mature audiences only, due to adult situations in the production.
“For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” is a series of 20 poems that collectively creates a poignant portrait of universal struggle. Called a “choreopoem” by its author, Ntozake Shange, the play weaves together the stories of seven African-American women coping with their loves, their losses, their families, their culture, and their sense of self. The Lycoming performance is completely student-driven. Students are responsible for everything, from directing to all of the design elements.
“My goal was to find a way to make the performance of these 20 poems unique to Lycoming,” said Director Nigel Barnes, a junior in the theatre program at Lycoming. “I saw themes in a few of these poems that fit together, but the challenge is making those connections apparent to the audience.”
Barnes led the student team of designers through a production concept that makes some of those connections more apparent through the set design and character movement. The process, he says, was ongoing.
“We would have everything in place and then have rehearsal and we’d notice something we hadn’t seen before, and we would tweak it again,” said Barnes. “But, being inspired to make additional improvements in rehearsal was one of my favorite parts of this whole experience.”
Barnes’s team of designers includes: Paul Sweet, junior, scene design; Kati Stankovich, senior, costume design; Christopher Hoffman, junior, sound design; Victoria Ashmore, sophomore, lighting design; and Brittany Wynn, senior, choreographer.
“For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf” was first performed in 1975 and produced most recently on Broadway in 2007. The production combines music, movement, and lyrical language in a very theatrical experience that is a celebration of the power of womanhood.
The production will also be entered into the prestigious Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. The KCACTF is a national organization that promotes excellence in theatre at the college and university level. Regional festivals are held each year that bring in theatre students for five-day intensives full of workshops and other activities.
“It’s a cool opportunity for students to see what kind of theatre is happening around the region, and to interact,” explained Dr. N. J. Stanley, associate professor and chair of the theatre program. “There is also a great chance for students who attend to win scholarships for further study.”
In addition, individual college productions can be registered and entered into a competition. Reviewers from KCACTF will attend performances of entered productions and recommend the best to festival organizers. The shows that are chosen remount their performances in a one-night-only show at the festival and may be selected to move on to the national competition.
Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets for the event, please contact the Lycoming College Box Office at 570-321-4048 between 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.