Famed playwright/poet tells local audience of new movie based on landmark work

“I’m going to tell you a secret, but then you can tell everybody,” Ntozake Shange announced at her April 23 appearance at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Center. “For colored girls is going to be [made into] a movie.” Shange’s appearance was part of the Givens Foundation for African American Literature’s NOMMO African American Authors Series. The audience in the center’s Cowles Auditorium let out a cheer of surprise and joy at the news that Shange’s “seminal work,” as she called it in her own words, For colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, which was first performed on stage 35 years ago, is finally becoming a film. (An Emmy-nominated PBS television American Playhouse version of the play, which starred Shange, Lynn Whitfield and Alfre Woodard, was broadcast in 1982 and is available on DVD.)

Furthermore, Shange confirmed that three African American actresses had “signed contracts” confirming that they would star in the upcoming film: Oscar winner Halle Berry, Oscar nominee Angela Bassett, and Grammy winning singer-turned-actor Jill Scott. The excited audience loudly gasped as Shange said each of the actresses’ names. She made her announcement about For colored girls being made into a film during an open dialogue with local writer and U of M professor Alexs Pate, who during his introduction of Shange recalled seeing the play when it was on Broadway in 1976 — and seeing and hearing men angrily walk out on the play, specifically during the climatic poem/scene “a nite with beau willie brown,” in which one of the seven women who form the cast of the play tells of a man who commits an act of unspeakable violence against his own children to spite their mother who rejects him. (Read more . . .)

A movie version is long overdue. They could have given Erykah a part though. Happy reading, y’all.