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have always had important women in my life who have faced

adversity,” said Nigel Semaj B., a junior in theatre at Lycoming.

“My mother battled drug addiction; my aunt had an autistic

child who suffered from frequent seizures. The play brought their

stories to life for me.”

Published in 1975, the Obie Award-winning play is “For Colored

Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf,” by

Ntozake Shange. Called a choreopoem by the author, you know right

away that you are not in the typical terrain.

“It’s a landmark in theatrical history,” explained Dr. N. J. Stanley,

associate professor and chair of the theatre program. “It’s eight

women of color who share their stories of heartache. It’s more of a

collage in a way and also a piece with movement and dance. It’s one

of those contemporary classics that have quickly become part of the

American canon, full of beautiful writing and very moving at the

same time.”

The play will have its run from April 8-11 in the Mary L. Welch

Theatre as one of the first student-directed productions at Lycoming

to appear on the main stage. “I’m thankful for the chance to put this

on at the Welch, and I think it is a mark of a new era for students

directing here,” said Semaj B.

The play 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,” Stanley said. “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.

Stanley is looking forward to the challenge. “It’s a huge obligation

if you are selected,” she said. “It’s expensive to enter, and if you are

selected for the regional, you have to transport and restage your entire

production, but it’s a big honor. This year, Lycoming is registering ‘For

Colored Girls.’ It’s the first time we have entered a student show in the

competition. We have the wonderful support of the provost and the

college, and we’re really excited.”

“It is a bit of a controversial play, but it’s a true play, a real play,” said

Semaj B. “I’ve looked at videos of some other colleges’ productions

of the play, and there is often anger and man-bashing emphasized. I

can’t connect that to what I think is the real essence of the play, which

is empowerment. In a sense, if you focus on the reaction to men, that

decreases the achievements of the women in overcoming adversity.”

Semaj B. takes a similarly expansive view of the race and gender

issues raised by the play, and of being a man directing a play by a

woman, and about the lives of women. “The main thing I figured out

is that men, women, white, black –– they don’t do evil things. Human

beings do evil things. When you remove gender or race, you can place

yourself in anyone’s shoes. The important thing about the play is that

it breathes truth into the ugliness of the world. Anyone who sees the

show will be able to connect with things in the play and find truth for

themselves in it.”











Instant classic to be performed at

Mary L. Welch Theatre

By Chris Quirk