Ntozake Shange, the poet, novelist and playwright who wrote the landmark choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, died in her sleep over the weekend in the assisted living facility in Bowie, Md., where she lived. She was 70 years old.
“Zake was a woman of extravagance and flourish, and she left quickly without suffering,” said Ifa Bayeza, her sister who also is a playwright and theater artist. “It’s a huge loss for the world. I don’t think there’s a day on the planet when there’s not a young woman who discovers herself through the words of my sister.”
The Star Tribune mentions that Shange had suffered multiple strokes in recent years, but had been feeling better lately, “creating new work, giving readings, and being feted for her work.”
For Colored Girls… – her biggest success – opened off-Broadway in 1975, then on Broadway in 1976, and has been produced consistently ever since. The “empowering series of interwoven poems on love and loss, joy and pain” was made into a 2010 movie starring Janet Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad, Thandie Newton, Loretta Devine, Anika Noni Rose, Kimberly Elise, Kerry Washington, and Macy Gray.
Penumbra artistic director Sarah Bellamy says her passing marks “a major shift in the cosmos,”
“Ntozake Shange invited us to marvel at the resiliency and power that women of color harness in order to survive a hostile world. She invited us to practice the ritual of loving ourselves.”
(Photo Avalon Red)