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For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow IS Enuf

The backstory of how a 44-year old concept found a home at Five Towns College.

Illustration: Janell George

By Gillani Peets

On the Night of November 1st, 2019, a crowd assembled in unison to witness a testimonial performance spotlighting eight African-American women. A first of its kind for Five Towns College, the venue in which the performance took place, the college welcomed alumni, family, professors, students, scholars, and paying theatregoers to a once-in-a-lifetime event. Some entered the building that cool autumn night, wondering how eight students could revive a beloved 1970’s classic for an audience unfamiliar with the material or the historical background regarding said performance. Others entered reassured, without seeing a preview or video advertisement, that they would be a spectator to a thrilling production.

As guests headed to their seats, prominent black vocalists filled the air. From Anita Baker's passionate romantic enchantment in “Sweet Love” to Aretha Franklin's demands for visibility in “Respect.” From TLC's acknowledgment of self-worth in “No Scrubs” to Lauryn Hill's ageless message of sexuality in “Doo Wop (That Thing),” the music was a precursor for the audience's theatrical experience. This performance was created for black women, originated by black women, celebrating black women (through triumphs and tribulations), and undoubtedly, stars BLACK WOMEN.

Backstage, nerves began to foray upon the female-driven cast. A year-long journey of putting forth their state of mind and vulnerability had resulted in a nearly sold-out theatre, anticipating manifestos of being a black woman in a male-dominated atmosphere. As emotions reached a high and as showtime grew closer, the stars and their director collectively prayed, to remember where they've been and where they were heading.

"My sisters, I thank you. I appreciate you. I see you. I love you. Ashe," the cast chanted.

Minutes later, the lights grew dim, the music faded out, and then, the 75-minute performance commenced.

"My sisters are ready!" Mere seconds after the announcement, free-form jazz blared throughout the theatre, a vicious, bold, in your face sound, with each note succeeding the one prior. The female cast ran down the aisle onto the stage and battled forces that withheld their lives through the imagery of rising and falling, embodying the emotional trauma that continuously hovers over black women. Beauty and imperfections. Love and heartache, friends and families. In the first minutes, without dialogue, the performance let the audiences grasp first-hand the unpredictable experiences African-American