Friday, November 19, 2010
It's been two weeks since two female friends and I went to see Tyler Perry's movie make of Ntozake's play For Colored Girls Who've Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. Few men were in the audience, no surprise, I admit.
I am thrilled that Perry brought this work of art from the 1970's into the consciousness of a new generation of women and I hope it will encourage many of both genders to read the original work. I certainly feel the need to do so, unlike when I saw the play on Broadway, years ago. I'm not sure why that is, since I don't recall much about it except when I heard the poetry out of Loretta Devine's mouth...the "trying to take my stuff" lines. That divine poetry resonated where the rest was lost, raising its melodic memory of splendor and sorrow.
Ntozake's play is a sisterspeak. Sisters' wounding and re-wounding in their relationships with men, with each other, and with themselves is where the lens is aimed. It is wide angled to include the tremendous power and majesty of sisterhood. Is it socially just to frame the story here without ensuring that black men are represented more favorably or balanced? I have come to the answer of 'yes' for the most part. Yes, we do not need to have every story of a black woman or man represent the entire complexity of our experience. We do not need to shut down or disparage artistic voices in our community out of fear or concern about how outside voices will respond or make use of material. Dominant outsiders will do what they do. What do we do? I say we look and listen to the stories that come out of the artists in our community and try to address the places of injury and injustice among us, as we also celebrate the beauty that flowers in our midst. I say we cannot afford to look away from the sexual and physical abuse that goes on in our community with claims that its stereotyping to raise it. I say we need to be able to hold to the outrageous magnificence that exists as we also seek to address and redress the places where we fall excruciatingly short. We will not escape it otherwise. Except as a temporary one, a Walt Disney of the mind.
And finally, the acting in Perry's film was phenomenal. It came from talent for sure, but also I believe, from love.