Friday, November 5, 2010

For Colored Girls - Movie Adaptation by Tyler Perry

For Colored Girls struck a nerve with me.

My girlfriends and I went to see it at the movies tonight.

I read the book first for my book club and did a review of it.  There were images of these women in my head and I saw them dancing on stage.

Perhaps, like others, I wonder if filmmaker, maybe loosely applied for his previous works, Tyler Perry, would be the right one to make the choreopoem flow on screen the way it flowed in my heart when I read it the last couple days.

This was no ordinary book-to-movie.  This epic has been performed and critically acclaimed and award winning and resonating with an entire generation of black women who finally felt their experiences, voices, pain, and redemption was given validity on the stage.  It is not a series of poems about any particular woman, as in the her book, the women are only identified by colors of the rainbow, it is not a stereotype of the black women, it is the humanity of us and the fact that the us, while black in her writing, are a universal us of women who have experienced life at the hands of men.  Yet, even in writing, I did not feel that Ntozake Shange was bashing black men, another problem many would have with Tyler Perry producing the film, he always has only caricatures of both black men and women, no, in Shange's work, we could also fully realize the men and still be appalled at their flaws invading the space of our lives.

Then I saw the movie and these powerful actresses will forever be etched in my mind.  I, like the author, found few flaws in the movie, perhaps Tyler Perry is stepping up his game, honing his craft in the learn-by-doing-school-of-the-arts.

The film brought these powerful stories to life beyond my imagination and were in part my story.

The teenage girl and disappointing her religious mother, for me it was my minister father.

The scared, silent, and abused woman whose significant other did the unthinkable to her kids, I lived that.

The woman who met a man she thought would be a friend ended up being her nightmare, I survived that.

The older woman, wiser, resolute, comforting, teaching, that is me now.

So many of the stories were so real and this audience filled with black women on opening weekend at the AMC 12 in Creve Coeur, we laughed with knowledge, cried unspent tears, and felt the story Ntosake Shange wrote almost four decades ago.

Now, in this new generation with more modern technology than the pulsating world of 1975, we, black women, are still trying to navigate the world we encounter and understand the men we love.

There were many powerful scenes, each of these women's lives intersecting the other without the other knowing the intimate, silent, secret details that caused the worry lines to crease the forehead and make the eyes just a little downcast.

In the end, like the hope of her poem and the quest of our sisterlives, the women found that the healing of their souls, the mending of their spirits, was in owning their own colors, their own essence, and finding that solace that comes only from the communal art of connected women.

Some stories take time to marinate, to be ready to be told.  This seemed like the right time.  Harris-Stowe State University's Theatre Department is putting on a production of the choreopoem next week.  I am anxious to see what the young people bring to life with a live audience.

Tyler Perry did a great job adapting this choreopoem for the big screen.  It was a step up from his usual fare.  The powerful performances of the women kept us all enraptured for the two hours.  It is rare that we get out to the movies and even more rare for an opening of a movie that was not exploiting our story as black women, but celebrating and giving us room to own the pain we carry in our chest and then find the release of that to find our own rainbow.

My love is too sensual and pink to have thrown back on my face.  I found God in myself and I loved her fiercely.

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