*The playwright who wrote the Broadway hit, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf,” has died. Ntozake Shange passed away Saturday morning (10-28-18), according to her official Twitter account. She was 70.
Shange was a victim of multiple strokes in recent years. She died peacefully in her sleep in an assisted living facility in Bowie, Md, according to reports.
Born Paulette L. Williams in Trenton, New Jersey on October 18, 1948, Shange’s family home was always filled with legendary figures in black history including Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and W.E.B. Du Bois, among others. Early in life, Shange took an interest in poetry. When she graduated from high school, she went on to study at Barnard College in New York City. After graduating from Barnard, she enrolled at USC and earned a masters degree.
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Here’s more via Deadline:
In 1975, she returned to New York City from Los Angeles and in the same year, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf” came to light. The play was a 20-part choreopoem that explored the lives of women of color in the United States. It was first produced Off-Broadway and then made its way to Broadway’s Booth Theater. The play became an acclaimed hit, earning an Obie Award and other accolades.
The play was adapted into a book in 1977 and then into the Tyler Perry film For Colored Girls which featured an all-star cast of black actresses including Janet Jackson, Loretta Devine, Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose, Kerry Washington, Phylicia Rashad, Whoopi Goldberg, and Tessa Thompson.
Like “For Colored Girls,” Shange’s other plays such as Spell No. 7 chronicled the black experience. In 1980, she adapted Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children which earned her another Obie Award.
Shange was also known as a primary figure in the Black Arts Movement, which was predominantly male. She was a pioneering figure and female trailblazer alongside notable figures from the movement and history including Gwendolyn Brooks, Nikki Giovanni, Rosa Guy, Lorraine Hansberry, Lucille Clifton, and Sonia Sanchez.
Shange is survived by her daughter, Savannah Shange and grand-daughter Harriet Shange Watkins.