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Ntozake Shange, ‘For Colored Girls’ Playwright, Dies at 70

Playwright Ntozake Shange, who wrote the 1975 Tony-nominated play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf,” died Saturday in Bowie, Maryland, according to her family. She was 70.

Shange, who was also a poet and author, had suffered a series of strokes in 2004 and died at an assisted living facility.

The influential play, a series of poetic monologues, has been hailed by numerous artists, including Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage. The play centers on the racism and violence experienced by seven black women.

For Colored Girls” played approximately 750 performances on Broadway, and became a feature film by Tyler Perry. Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose, Kerry Washington and Janet Jackson starred in the 2010 film.

Washington tweeted that she was “so grateful for her vision and voice.”

Shange was born Paulette Williams in New Jersey and graduated Barnard College and received a master’s from USC. Her Zulu name Ntozake means “She who comes with her own things” and Shange means “She who walks like a lion.”

She won an Obie for “Colored Girls” as well as for her adaptation of “Mother Courage and Her Children.”

Her other plays include “A Photograph: A Study of Cruelty,” “Boogie Woogie Landscapes” and “Black and White Two Dimensional Planes.” Among her novels are “Sassafrass, Cypress, and Indigo” and “Some Sing, Some Cry,” written with her sister, Ifa Bayeza.

Shange worked with a number of black theater companies and taught at universities including Brown, Rice, Villanova and DePaul.

Ava DuVernay also paid tribute, tweeting “Rest now, Queen.”

 

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