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Ntozake Shange

NTOZAKE SHANGE  (1948 - )

Nationality:    African American
email:    n/a     Website:    n/a

Literary Agent:    Russell & Volkening  

Born Paulette Williams - took name Ntozake Shange in 1971. Feminist, poet, playwright, author, dancer, actress, musician, director, and college teacher. Best known as the creator and developer of the "choreopoem" as a Dramatic form, with her most successful Theatre piece, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf (1976). Born in Trenton, NJ the daughter of a surgeon and a psychiatric social worker. Grew up in upstate New York and in St. Louis, MO. Educated at Barnard Coll. (B.A. with honors in American Studies, 1970 and the Univ. of Southern California (M.A. in American Studies, 1973). Also studied music and dance. Twice married; currently to jazz musician David Murray, 1977. Assumed her Zulu name (pronounced En-toZAH-ki SHONG-gay) in 1971. Her first name means "She who comes with her own thing"; her last name means "One who walks like a lion." Has taught English, creative writing, Drama, and related subjects at Trenton State Coil., 1972; California State Coil, at Sonoma, 1973-75; CCNY, 1975; Medgar Evers Community Coil., 1975; Douglass Coil., Rutgers Univ., 1978; and Rice Univ., 1983. Performed in several jazz/dance/poetry ensembles in California and New York. Television appearances include "Straight Talk" (1976), "Sunday" (1976), "Black Journal" (1977), and "An Evening with Diana Ross" (1977). Radio appearances include "Celebrity Hour" (WRVR, 1976). In 1979 she directed several plays for the New York Shakespeare Festival (NYSF), including the Mighty Gents (RICHARD WESLEY, 1979) and Tribute to Sojourner Truth (BERNIECE REAGON and JUNE JORDAN, 1979). Her books include Nappy Edges (a book of poems, 1978); Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo: A Novel (1982- originally published as Sassafrass: A Novella, 1977); Melissa & Smith: A Story (1983); A Daughter's Geography: Poetry (1983); Matrilineal Poems (1983); See No Evil: Prefaces, Essays, and Accounts, 1976-1983 (1984); and Betsy Brown (a novel, 1985). Her short fiction, articles, and poems have appeared in numerous periodicals, including Ms. magazine, Black Scholar, Hoodoo, Sojourner, Essence, Callaloo, the New York Times, TV Guide, and most recently have been anthologized in the Pushcart Press Il (1977), Califia: the California Poetry (1979), and Anthology of Third World Women Writers (1980). Professional and civic affiliations include P.E.N., WGA, DG, AEA, Poets and Writers, National Assn. of Third World Writers, Feminist Art Institute (Board of Directors), Women Against Violence Against Women and Children, NATAS, AFTRA, and national member of American Film Inst. Recipient of Outer Critics' Circle Award, Obie Award, AUDELCO Award, Mademoiselle Award, 1977, for For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf (which was also nominated for a Tony Award and a Grammy Award); Frank Silvera Writers' Workshop (FSWW) Award, 1978; another Obie Award, 1980, for outstanding adaptn. of Mother Courage by Brecht (1980); Guggenheim Fe!lowship for writing, 1981; Los Angeles Times Book Review Award for poetry, for Three Pieces, 1981; Medal of Excellence, Columbia Univ., 1981; New York State Council of the Arts Award, 1981; NEA Fellowship for creative writing, 1981.

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below is a list of Ntozake Shange's plays - click on a Play Title for more information

        Betsey Brown         Black and White Two-Dimensional Planes         Bocas         Boogie Woogie Landscapes         Daddy Says         Dancin' Novel, The: Sassafrass, Cypress, & Indigo         Daughter's Geography II, A         Dreamed Dwellings         Educating Rita         for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is Enuf         From Okra to Greens         Hydraulics Phat Like Mean         I Heard Eric Dolphy in His Eyes         It Has Not Always Been This Way         Liliane -Everytime My Lil WorldSeems Blue, I Just Haveta Look At You And Learn Eye-hand Co-ordination         Love Space Demands, The         Mother Courage And Her Children         Photograph, A: Lovers In Motion II         Resurrection Of the Daughter: Liliane         Spell 7         Three Views of Mt Fuji         Where the Mississippi Meets the Amazon



Betsey Brown

Synopsis:
-

Notes:
Staged readings by NYSF, Aug. 1981. Closed workshop prodn. by*'4YSF, Oct. 1982; dir. by Author. Presented in A full prodn. by NYSF for only 1 perf., with music, Feb. 14, 1983 (after which the prodn. closed). Pub. As A novel by St. Martin's Press, 1985.

1st Produced:
NYSF/Public Theatre, New York    1983

Company:
-

1st Published:
extract in SAD,    -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Rhythm & Blues Play

Parts:
Male:  4            Female:  4            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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Black and White Two-Dimensional Planes

Synopsis:
-

Notes:
Prod. At the Houston Jazz Festival, Nov. 1979

1st Produced:
Sounds-In-Motion Studio Works, New York    1979

Company:
-

1st Published:
-   -

Music:
-

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If Publisher (above) is underlined then the play may be purchased by direct click from the Publisher, otherwise (below) are AbeBooks for secondhand, signed & 1st eds and other Booksellers for new copies

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Genre:
theatre piece, full length Piece

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
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Bocas

Synopsis:
-

Notes:
-

1st Produced:
Los Angeles    1982

Company:
-

1st Published:
-   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
-

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

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Boogie Woogie Landscapes

Synopsis:
A woman's experiences, memories, and dreams are presented through song and dance, and in a stream of consciousness style, to explore what it means to be black and female in America

Notes:
First presented in A one-woman perf. by NYSF, in the Poetry At the Public Series, 1979. Presented in play form by FSWW At Symphony Space, New York, June 1979. Prod. By the Black Touring Circuit At the Kennedy Center's Terrace theater, Washington, DC, June

1st Produced:
Symphony Space, New York    1979

Company:
-

1st Published:
in "Three Pieces", St Martin's Press, New York, 1981   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
experimental theatre piece, full length

Parts:
Male:  3            Female:  4            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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Daddy Says

Synopsis:
-

Notes:
-

1st Produced:
-    -

Company:
-

1st Published:
in New Plays for the Black theatre, ed Woodie King Jr, Thirld World Press, Chicago, 1989   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Play/Drama

Parts:
Male:  1            Female:  3            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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Dancin' Novel, The: Sassafrass, Cypress, & Indigo

Synopsis:
centers around two sisters from Charleston, SC. According to Elizabeth Brown, the two sisters "have chosen different ways of perceiving and relating to the world. Sassafrass is a weaver and a would-be writer who chooses to live with her lover Mitch regardless of the fact that he is a junkie and a musician who worki sporadically and who abuses her mentally and physically. . . . Cypress, on the other hand, chooses to be a feminist. She has many male friends, but she does not take any of them as lovers." -Afro-American Writers After 1955: Dramatists and Prose Writers (Davis & Harris, 1985). According to Elizabeth Brown (cited above), the novella lends itself easily to translation to the stage: "Cypress and her friends act/ perform women's dance pieces. . . . Sassafrass bears Shange's trademarks of scenes which merge music, poetry and dancing. Mitch's music, literally and figuratively, does not sooth Sassafrass. .. . Sassafrass and Cypress cope through dance with frustration, pain, and insecurity.' '-Ibid.

Notes:
Conceived And written by Shange with Dianne McIntyre And Rod Rodgers. Based on her novella Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo

1st Produced:
NYSF/Public Theatre, New York    1982

Company:
-

1st Published:
Pub. only as a novel by St. Martin's Press, New York, 1982   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
theatre piece, full length Piece

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
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Daughter's Geography II, A

Synopsis:
An experience of the topology of a woman's life on the planet as we now know it. From the point of view of Conakry and Tulsa, the Cosmic Couple, we travel the realms of Black people in the New World from slavery times to the recent Atlanta murders. -Samuel French's Basic Catalog of Plays (1985). Explores a number of feminist and nationalist issues and presents several love relationships throughout the play. the episodes are connected by appropriate dances arising from the ethnic or emotional content of the scene.

Notes:
Orig. title: Mouths: A Daughter's Geography II Also prod. As Triptych & Bocas II Also pub. As Bocas: A Daughter's Geography. First prod. As Mouths: A Daughter's Geography: A Performance Piece, At the Kitchen, New York, April 1981. Prod. As Triptych & Boc

1st Produced:
Kitchen, New York    1981

Company:
-

1st Published:
St Martin's Press, New York, 1983   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
choreopoem, 2 acts

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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Dreamed Dwellings

Synopsis:
-

Notes:
In collab. with Wopo Holup

1st Produced:
Women's Interact Centre, New York    1981

Company:
-

1st Published:
-   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Installation & Performance Piece

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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Educating Rita

Synopsis:
-

Notes:
Playwright - Willy Russell

1st Produced:
Atlanta    1983

Company:
-

1st Published:
-   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Adaptation

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is Enuf

Synopsis:
A Drama of self-celebration, utilizing poetry, dance, color symbolism, and intimate personal experiences to explore the many facets of a black woman's psyche. It is performed by seven black women, called the Lady in Brown, the Lady in Yellow, the Lady in Red, the Lady in Green, the Lady in Purple, the Lady in Blue, and the Lady in Orange. According to Elizabeth Brown [Elizabeth BROWNGUILLORY]: "Shange presents all-too-human black women who are preoccupied with the business of living and surviving; For Colored Girls is also filled with the outcries of women who have been hurt. On the one level, the work speaks of the physical and emotional abuse that black women experience at the hands of insensitive black men; on another level, however, it is about the black women's ability to survive even after they have been knocked down repeatedly.' '-Afro-American Writers After 1955: Dramatists and Prose Writers (Davis & Harris, 1985), p. 241. Recipient of the Outer Critics' Circle Award. Nominated for a Tony Award, a Grammy Award, and an Emmy Award. Winner of three Obie awards-one each for the playwright, the director, and the entire cast. Winner of four AUDELCO awards-for the playwright, the two producers (Joseph Papp and WOODIE KING, JR.), and actress TrANZana Beverly (who also won a Tony Award and a theatre World Award). Developed from poetry readings given by the author in San Francisco bars and clubs prior to 1973. With the addition of a second actress in 1973, it was presented at small colleges, bars, and community facilities around San Francisco, before being brought to New York City, where it played a number of East Village clubs, acquired a director, and was expanded to include seven actresses

Notes:
Discovered by Woodie King, Jr., who prod. it Off-Off-Bway At the Henry St. Settlement's New Federal theatre (NV!'), April-May 1976, from which it was transferred Off-Bway to the NYSF Public theatre, June 1-Aug. 29, 1976, for A total of 120 perfs. Transfer

1st Produced:
the Bacchanal, Berkley, CA    1975

Company:
-

1st Published:
Shameless Hussy Press, San Lorenzo, California, 1976   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
choreopoem, 2 acts

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  7            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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From Okra to Greens

Synopsis:
-

Notes:
-

1st Produced:
Barnard Coll., New York    1978

Company:
-

1st Published:
as From Okra to Greens: A Different Love Story by Coffee House Press, St. Louis, 1984   -

Music:
-

To Buy This Play:
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Genre:
theatre piece, full length Piece

Parts:
Male:  7            Female:  7            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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Hydraulics Phat Like Mean

Synopsis:
-

Notes:
-

1st Produced:
the Pit, London    1998

Company:
National Theatre, London

1st Published:
-   -

Music:
-

To Buy This Play:
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Genre:
-

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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I Heard Eric Dolphy in His Eyes

Synopsis:
-

Notes:
Eric Dolphy was A legendary jazz musician in the 60s And 70s

1st Produced:
-    -

Company:
-

1st Published:

Music:
-

To Buy This Play:
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Genre:
-

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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It Has Not Always Been This Way

Synopsis:
-

Notes:
-

1st Produced:
Symphony Space, New York    1981

Company:
In collab. with Sounds-In-Motion Dance Co

1st Published:
-   -

Music:
-

To Buy This Play:
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Genre:
choreopoem, full length

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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Liliane -Everytime My Lil WorldSeems Blue, I Just Haveta Look At You And Learn Eye-hand Co-ordination

Synopsis:
-

Notes:
-

1st Produced:
Signature Theatre, New York    Feb 2001

Company:
-

1st Published:
-   -

Music:
-

To Buy This Play:
If Publisher (above) is underlined then the play may be purchased by direct click from the Publisher, otherwise (below) are AbeBooks for secondhand, signed & 1st eds and other Booksellers for new copies

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Genre:
-

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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Love Space Demands, The

Synopsis:
-

Notes:
-

1st Produced:
Cochrane, London    1992

Company:
National Theatre, London

1st Published:
St Martin's Press, New York, 1991   -

Music:
-

To Buy This Play:
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Genre:
Play/Drama

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  1            Other:  extras

Further Reference:
-

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Mother Courage And Her Children

Synopsis:
In this version, the time and place were changed from seventeenth-century Sweden, Poland, and Germany to post-Civil War America, with Mother Courage as an emancipated slave. -Dictionary of the Black theatre (Woll, 1983), p. 249

Notes:
Original Playwright - Bertolt Brecht. Recipient of An Obie Award for Outstanding Adaptation

1st Produced:
NYSF/Public Theatre, New York    1980

Company:
-

1st Published:
-   -

Music:
-

To Buy This Play:
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Genre:
Adaptation

Parts:
Male:  19            Female:  6            Other:  extras

Further Reference:
-

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Photograph, A: Lovers In Motion II

Synopsis:
Considered more of a play than a choreopoem. About a young, ambitious, and misogynistic photographer and his relationship with the three women in his life, who love him, and whom he needs to satisfy~' his ego. Although he pretends to be a strong black male, his facade collapses when he is rejected for a fellowship and a gallery exhibition which he considered necessary to launch his career

Notes:
Orig. title: A Photograph: A Still Life in Shadows II Also prod. As A Photograph: A Study of Cruelty. Prod. As A workshop production under its original title by the NYSF/Public theatre, Jan. 1977. Prod. As A Photograph: A Study of Cruelty in A full prodn.

1st Produced:
New York    1977

Company:
-

1st Published:
in "Three Pieces", St Martin's Press, New York, 1981   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Poem Play

Parts:
Male:  2            Female:  3            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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Resurrection Of the Daughter: Liliane

Synopsis:
-

Notes:
-

1st Produced:
-    -

Company:
-

1st Published:
extract in "Moon Marked and Touched By the Sun", TCG, NY, 1994   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Play/Drama

Parts:
Male:  1            Female:  1            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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Spell 7

Synopsis:
Series of poetic vignettes built around the theme of what it means to be black in America, and set in a St. Louis bar frequented by black musicians and artists. the various characters unburden their souls through soliloquies, often supported by appropriate dances which illustrate the emotional content of their speeches. As described by Allen Woll, Spell 7, "unlike For Colored Girls - uses both male and female characters who interact with one another. In the beginning, the characters wear grotesque black minstrel show masks, which they shed when revealing the truths about their lives. A narrator, an interlocutor, is instrumental in binding the vignettes together. "-Dictionary of the Black theatre (Woll, 1983), p. 157

Notes:
-

1st Produced:
NYSF/Public Theatre, New York    1979

Company:
-

1st Published:
in "Three Pieces", St Martin's Press, New York, 1981   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
choreopoem, 2 acts

Parts:
Male:  4            Female:  5            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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Three Views of Mt Fuji

Synopsis:
-

Notes:
-

1st Produced:
New York    1987

Company:
-

1st Published:
-   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
-

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
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Where the Mississippi Meets the Amazon

Synopsis:
According to Allen Woll, this piece was "orchestrated in the fashion of a musical composition [the three collaborators,] called the Satin Sisters, performed their own poetry, danced and sang alone or in ensemble, while a band, Teddy and His Sizzling Romancers, played jazz."- Dictionary of the Black theatre (Woll, 1983), p. 249

Notes:
written with Thulani Nkabinda (T Davis) And Jessica Hagedorn

1st Produced:
NYSF/Public Theatre, New York    1977

Company:
-

1st Published:
-   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Cabaret, full length

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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