“for colored girls…” Comes To The Manazar Gamboa Theater
2012-09-14 · By Editor
If you look around, you can always find a production of for colored girls… being done somewhere. Atlanta, Detroit,Washington D.C. It’s that kind of play. The cast features seven women who deal with a woman’s specific set of life experiences. Written by Ntozake Shange in the early seventies, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf still has all of the bite and relevance today as it did then.
Stevi Meredith, director of the coming Long Beach production has directed for colored girls…before. In fact, she’s won awards for it. When asked to do it for Dark Blue Mondaze Showcase Theatre Series, initially she balked. “I directed this piece a long time ago and I just wasn’t sure I was up to it. For two reasons, really. My mom had just passed away and I didn’t know if it still relevant.” Meredith said she drug her tattered script out and read it late one night. “What I found was incredible. Not only was the text still viable but it illuminated so much of my mother.”
The next task at hand was to assemble a cast. Meredith has for a long time felt that Long Beach has a wealth of untapped talent, but mining that talent has been difficult. “I think people learn to look for opportunities where they are welcome. Most theatre companies in and around Long Beach do shows that feature African American actors maybe once a year. We become accustomed to thinking there are no roles for us.” Meredith held three auditions in which she found four women. She then called upon a couple of former students to round out the cast. “The ladies come from different directions. Three are professional actresses, one is a poet, one is a teacher. But they all had a desire to be a part of this experience.”
Meredith remembers exactly when she discovered she was a colored girl. “I was four and I auditioned for a popular local children’s show. When I didn’t hear from them, I asked my mother why. She told me she had never seen any ‘colored’ children on the show.” Meredith went on to say she was stunned, but she also credits that moment with planting the seed to “have her own things”.
Last year, Meredith directed “Master Harold…and The Boys” by Athol Fugard. It ran at the Long Beach Playhouse for five weeks. Though critically acclaimed, it was poorly attended. “Our disappointment was monumental. The actors and I had created a stunning piece of theatre and few people saw it. Again, I just think people were unaware that we were there.” Dark Blue Mondaze wants to build something for the underserved population of Long Beach. Affordable theatre that can enlighten, empower and uplift the African American population. The DBM Theatre Series will be held at the Manizar Gamboa Theater. 1323 Gundry Avenue. Part of the Homeland Cultural Center, it is a state-of-the-art black box theater. Gary DeWitt Marshall, founder of Dark Blue Mondaze, saw a need in the community and saw the Gamboa Theater as part of the solution. “ Dark Blue Mondaze uses the Gamboa Theatre as a lighthouse to illuminate the collective imagination, creating a venue for discourse and debate where attitudes and ideologies can be transformed.”
“When we rehearse at the theater,” Meredith commented, “we always have the neighborhood peeking in to see what we’re doing. These people will eventually become patrons of the arts and will strengthen their community because the art will show them a better way.”
“for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf” by Ntozake Shange will run September 27, 28 and 29 at 7 pm and September 30 at 2 pm at the Manazar Gamboa Theater, 1323 Gundry Avenue, Long Beach. Tickets are $10. and must be purchased in advance at http://darkbluemondaze.ticketleap.com. For more information please call, 562-264-5717.