PERFORMATIVE HEALING IN NTOZAKE SHANGEcreated by Ebony Golden
Working the Chakras
- Green: Love, acceptance allowance
Each character in For Colored Girls’ personifies an energy field or chakra in the body. In traditional healing arts, the color green is associated with the heart chakra thus; “Alla My Stuff” is an imperative thrust toward the Lady in Green’s reclamation of self and self love. Lady in Green reminds the audience of the universal sound/expression of love, self acceptance, and allowance. The Green lady reclaims her own “tacky skirts”, her aired out vagina, “callused feet”, her “arm wit the hot iron scar” as her story, her walk, and her meditation on freedom, awareness, and wholeness.
This reclamation and proclamation illustrates specifically black womyn reclaiming ourselves; interestingly, the pieces, bodies, desires communities have harvested, historically and recently, for consumption. Lady in Green’s monologue is indeed a celebration of the reclamation of voice and herstory; and serves as an insightful glimpse into the importance of vocalization as expressive healing.
My stuff exercise: List all of the stuff that makes you the fabulous person you are. You can list descriptions of your personality, wonderful things you have gifted this world, or something special about you that don’t mind sharing with this group. Create a list of at least five items!
Dance this Fever Away!
In “No More Love Poems # 1” Lady in Orange deconstructs her individual experience as a “colored girl”. We enter the monologue as the Lady in Orange gains of awareness of what it means to be “her colored self” against a landscape of trauma and voicelessness. Thankfully, Shange does not leave the Orange lady rambling in a disorienting space of helplessness. By the end of the piece this character opens up to the joy of tears, rebirth, and the self-realization that comes as the character exfoliates feelings and despair and sorrow.
One more point of importance in this monologue concerns the development of a body narrative through the medium of dance. Shange, a trained dancer, peppers choreography throughout the performance of this play. Dance is what I like to call the unrestrained voice of the soul. Dance similar to vocal expressiveness allows the body to make strides toward healing by quickening the breath, warming the body, and securing the space where womyn can walk whole in their own bodies.
If your body to talk: Awakening to dance is a beautiful way in engage with your own body. Choose three body parts and allow them to have a free dialogue on the page. If possible allow the parts of your body to communicate with each other. Share your body conversations with someone next to you.