Tag Archives: For Colored Girls London

#12 ~ For Colored Girls: Journeying

Waking up at 7am to travel (initially to Ealing till we moved rehearsal venue) and then to Peckham Rye for the last few weeks is a mission, especially for a director who is not a morning person.

Sadly it has resulted not only in exhaustion but also neglect of this journey process.

Over the past few weeks since I’ve been quiet on the writing front we have begun to produce some videos on the play, short cast interviews which you can find here, digging deeper into who their characters are and who the actresses are outside of their roles. Moreover, Assistant Director Gwenni Hawkins has joined the crew and we have completed almost 40% of the poems which is quite exciting.

Our choreographer, known affectionately as Nicole, has done some stunning dance routines not only to open the play but to enhance some of the poems (she’ll have a person post dedicated to her and her work).

So we’ve worked and progressed – now you get to have a little back story on the lady in purple.

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#10 ~ For Colored Girls: Latent Rapists

Image by Joseph Mambwe

Image by Joseph Mambwe

Latent Rapists is the first ‘shocking poem’ of For Colored Girls. It looks at the nature of rape through the eyes of 3 separate women and puts the emphasis on rape being committed by a friend.

Earlier on in the year I discovered that the majority of rape victims suffer at the hands of someone they know. That’s right. The likelihood of being raped by a complete stranger down a dark alleyway is less likely than being raped by a family member, a family friend, an acquaintance or a work colleague. It’s a chilling thought.

Whilst in my second year of Uni I thought about the ease with which male friends that came to visit me could very easily take advantage of me – and it would look like my fault.

‘You invited him over for dinner. You must have wanted it. You’re just making excuses because you’re embarrassed. Friends can’t rape you.’

These are some of the excuses we regularly make which turn the victims of sexual assault into the perpetrators.

Because, as the lady in Red, Purple and Blue so painfully state:

The nature of rape has changed.

We can now meet them in the circles we frequent for companionship.

We see them at the coffee-house/with someone else we know.

We can even invite them over for dinner and get raped in our own houses/

by invitation

a friend.

Rape is never ok, never justifiable and it is never the victim’s fault. If you have been abused please seek help. To see how we give a voice to marginalised and abused people make sure you keep following the FCG story, hopefully see you in September.

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#9 ~For Colored Girls London: Selling Out

Selling out isn’t new to the FCGLondon team. When we popped up in Cambridge we were a late show, starting at 11pm. Yet our figures grew consistently from 50 on the first night to 196 on the last. We prepared for London with the mindset of desperately needing to sell out – partly for the financial gain but also because if we were going to put that much effort in, we needed  people to see us.

In under 24 hours we sold 100 tickets. Releasing some reserved tickets to feed the demand, we officially sold out at around 6pm today. That’s called holding nothing back.

So now that we’re faced with a full house, here’s to putting on a stella performance.

Watch this space for further rehearsal and production updates.

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#6 ~ The Start of Rehearsals

for-colored-girls-06After an unforeseen pause, rehearsals (and this day by day blog) have finally started.  Over the past few weeks some exciting developments have occurred. The play has moved to Canada Water Culture Space which is linked with the prestigious Albany theatre. Moreover, writer, journalist and curator Hannah Pool has come on board to host the Q&A session. With incredible PR from Afridiziak Theatre News, the play is taking wings right before my eyes. Tickets have been launched, flyers are being finished, the rights are in and the music is almost sorted. Photographers have been contacted, schedules have been sent out, rehearsal space has been attained – anything else? Oh…now I get to start directing.

How do we begin? One of the hardest aspects of re-doing a play is helping your cast to create something new. Like wearing a comfortable jumper, our hands naturally dig into the worn pockets and holes, instead of seeking out new lumps and bumps that might prove more (un)comfortable. We get so used to wearing our jumper/costume/character in a particular fashion we forget that it is possible to wear it inside out or the other way around.

Over the past few days I’ve been working with 3 of the actress on trying to re-create their characters, and whilst being  a challenge it has also been a painful adventure.

More in my next post, in the meantime, make sure to check out our MEET THE CAST article hosted by Afridiziak.

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#5 ~ For Colored Girls: Production

This can be summed up perfectly in the FCG journey: No matter how prepared you are, be prepared.

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#4 ~ For Colored Girls: Dark Phrases

The first poem that opens FCG is entitled ‘Dark Phrases’. One of the last poems to be written, it begins as a lament, a lament for the (lost or stolen) womanhood of black women.


dark phrases of womanhood

of never gavin been a girl

half-notes scattered

without rhythm/no tune

distraught laughter fallin

over a black girls shoulder

As a director, an actress, and a former english student, before I can translate the above words into action and stage craft, I need to be conscious of both syntax and semantics. Shange’s style is characterised by its colloquialism.  It carries the ease of natural speech, and yet it has been altered and adulterated to incorporate a poetic rhythm, a lilt and melody. The most obvious conceit throughout the play is the use of colour. The first hint to the colour spectrum we get is a shade. Shadism is a problem within black culture and stems from the racial discrimination that has dogged non-white individuals for generations. It is a discrimination in which the darker you are the less attractive you are the less desirable, the less ‘good’ or wholesome. It feeds into the dichotomy of black : white, evil:good, that fuelled institutions and regimes such as the Slave Trade, Apartheid and pre-civil rights America.

‘dark phrases of womanhood’,  alludes to shadism and colour dichotomy, insinuating a pain, a darkness and danger that haunts the growth of a woman of colour. It generates the image  of an aborted or stolen childhood, a neglected or abused innocence which has created this coloured woman who has ‘never been a girl’.

When I set out to create my own production of this phenomenal and well-known piece, I had a deep urge and awareness to include music. Each of the poems are themselves scattered and infused with musical references. It isn’t just about speaking the word, song is presented as intrinsic to the liberation of the coloured woman. When her song, her lyrical voice is silenced, it is a sonic destruction of her physical, emotional, mental and spiritual being. It is the oppressive removal of a life. What is left is terror, anxiety and  a discordant life that has no melody, no tune, no future and no purpose or recognition.

Watch this space to see how we take these concepts and use music and light in our production.

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#3 ~ For Colored Girls: Beginning

How to start a play. Or perhaps, instead of a statement, a question – how do you start a play?

It’s a tricky question. Often I jump to the end, to the applause, the emotion, the adrenaline and the sleep that follows. But how to begin. How to harness the reeking anticipation of your audience and the nervous sweat of your cast as you dare to produce something spectacular.

The first stage is the atmosphere. Yesterday, crammed into London Underground i read through the first page of the script. The Stage Directions state:

The stage is in darkness. Harsh music is heard as dim blue lights come up. One after another, seven women run onto the stage from each of the exits. They all freeze in postures of distress. The follow spot picks up the lady in brown. She comes to life and looks at the other ladies. All of the others are still. 

I start scribbling furiously. In those precious few moments, the audience have to shift from excitement and curiosity to an uncomfortable awareness that something ominous is coming. Something painful. On one hand I start thinking about the lighting design. How the colour of that blue has to sear through the audience and automatically communicate an iciness, a pain, that mirrors the tortured freeze frames of the actresses. Moreover, music is flowing through my mind. What kind of music? How will that Am arpeggio modulate, or the use of the cymbals create a discord, a screeching sound, and perhaps the thrumming of the bass get people’s pulse rising like the hairs on their arms. It’s all about setting the scene before we move onto the first poem.

‘Dark Phrases’.

But that’s for later on today.

Join the journey.

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