Exhibitionists

Playwright Djanet Sears wouldn't have started writing without this play. Now she's directing it

Seeing Ntozake Shange's "for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf" lit a fire in Sears' soul — and changed her life's path.

Seeing Ntozake Shange's 'for colored girls' lit a fire in Sears' soul — and changed her life's path

Seeing Ntozake Shange's "for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf" lit a fire in Djanet Sears' soul — and changed her life's path. 2:17

While in her first year studying drama at York University, award-winning playwright Djanet Sears and her classmates took a field trip to New York City. Of the many productions Sears would see on that trip, Ntozake Shange's for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf was the one that lit a fire in her soul.

"There were limits to what black women, black people could say," recalls Sears. "And Ntozake Shange blew that out of the water."

Sears was inspired by how Shange challenged colonialism and subverted how audiences expected her to work with language. In fact, seeing for colored girls ultimately empowered her to change her life's path and pursue a career in theatre — and now, she's directing the Soulpepper Theatre's remount of the play.

"I'm not sure I would really have considered writing without seeing this play," she says. "It really taught me: you must speak your own truth."

for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf. Written by Ntozake Shange. Directed by Djanet Sears. Presented by Soulpepper Theatre. To June 3. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto. www.soulpepper.ca

Watch Exhibitionists on Friday nights at 12:30am (1am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT) on CBC Television.

About the Author

Lucius Dechausay is a video producer at CBC Arts, as well as a freelance illustrator and filmmaker. His short films and animations have been screened at a number of festivals including The Toronto International Film Festival and Hot Docs. Most recently he directed KETTLE, which is currently streaming at CBC Short Docs.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.