When I was 11 years old, I would peruse a tall bookshelf that sat in the living room of my mother’s apartment every week. The shelf was filled with plays. Plays by women. Plays by men. Plays by blacks, whites and everyone in between. Reading through the shows, I learned more and more about my mother who, if you haven’t guessed, is an actress.
Accepted into the Juilliard School at 18, there was no denying her talent. My mom always tells me stories of when she would enter acting competitions and perform on stages across New York. She didn’t go to Juilliard because of financial strains on the family, but she still maintained a passion for theater in college and beyond, a passion that inevitably brushed off on me. These collection of plays were her core, her anchor, her connection to the past. She kept scripts from her time at the High School for the Performing Arts in New York (yes, the one from “Fame“) and almost never lost a copy.
One in particular was a play titled “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf.” It’s a gripping collection of stories and poems dealing with love, loss, family and the strength of black women in tough times. Now the play has been adapted into a movie directed by decorated producer/actor Tyler Perry. One look at the trailer and I can only say one word: Woah.
Not only does this cast pack a mighty punch (Janet Jackson, Anika Noni Rose, Whoopi Goldberg, Kerri Washington, Macy Gray … the list goes on), but it brings a wonderful work of theater to the mainstream. Whether the adaptation itself will be worthwhile is obviously yet to be determined, but nonetheless, it reminds me of those days when I would stare up into my mom’s bookshelf, read through her plays and scene notes and get a glimpse of a world between the lines.