Tyler Perry’s decision to direct ‘For Colored Girls’ produces mixed feelings

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The article originally appeared on Clutch Magazine>

By Geneva S. Thomas
Clutch Magazine

At last night’s Why Did I Get Married Too? premiere, Tyler Perry confirmed that he’s set to direct For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. The award-winning director and producer also revealed the cast, which includes Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad, Jurnee Smollett, Kimberly Elise, Kerry Washington and Macy Gray

The film adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s 1975 play is scheduled to shoot in New York this June with a likely 2010-2011 release. The film will be the first project of 34th Street Films, Perry’s new production company, which is housed at Lionsgate.

The Broadway play, centered around 20 “choreopoems” performed by a company of ‘nameless’ women, each known by a color: “Lady in Green”, “Lady in Yellow”, “Lady in Red”, etc. The play deals with issues faced by Black women in America like rape, abortion, domestic violence, love and abandonment. This revolutionary play first performed at the Bacchanal women’s bar outside of Berkeley, California became highly influential on black women’s performance art and popular culture. Singer Erykah Badu references the play in her video, “Bag Lady”.

The original pitch for the play’s adaptation was made by Nzingha Stewart (Bilal’s “Soul Sista”, Common’s “The Light), slated to come abroad the project as screenwriter. One wonders what Stewart’s exact influence will be with Perry set to write, direct and produce the film.

Perry largely known for his comedic stage plays and film adaptions (Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea’s Family Reunion) along with a small selection of original motion picture works (The Family That Preys, Why Did I Get Married?) is challenged with a powerful and emotionally-driven work beloved by scores of black women and men throughout the country.

Although Perry has assembled a brilliant cast of seasoned and highly capable actresses coupled with an obvious blessing from Shange, is Perry himself truly prepared for this work?

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