Just last week producers Nelle Nugent, Ron Simons and Kenneth Teaton announced that Camille A. Brown will direct the upcoming production of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow is Enuf on Broadway in 2022.
In more than 65 years, Brown is the first Black woman to serve as both director and choreographer of a Broadway production. The last Black woman to both direct and choreograph on Broadway was the great artist Katherine Dunham who directed and choreographed her dance company in a three act dance revue at the Broadway Theater in November 1955.
With For Colored Girls, Brown makes her Broadway debut as a director. In 2019 she choreographed a critically acclaimed revival of the play at The Public Theater off-Broadway. She will continue in her role as choreographer on Broadway.
This pioneering work by playwright/poet Ntozake Shangefirst opened on Broadway in 1976. When New York Times critic Mel Gussow reviewed For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, he wrote that the actresses weaved a kind of “choreographic tapestry” from Ntozake Shange’s poems. In his 1976 review he described The piece as poems set to the actors’ “own inner music.”
43 years later, in 2019 when For Colored Girls returned to New York and played at The Public Theater, that “inner music” was still there. The show just as poignant. The piece, or choreopoem, from playwright/poet Shange is deeply honest and raw.
Seven Black women use movement, songs and poetry to share her survival story. She recounts what it is like to live in a sexist, racist and fractured world. We witness humans and their pain, struggle, courage, passion, resilience, possibility and the desire for love.
“It’s an amazing feeling to bring this seminal show back to Broadway 45 years after it opened at the Booth Theatre on September 15, 1976,” said Brown who has received many awards including a Guggenheim Award, Bessie Award, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, Doris Duke Artist Award, United States Artists Award, Audelco Awards, Princess Grace Awards, and a New York City Center Award. “I look forward to diving into the divine Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem and celebrating her legacy.”
A prolific and visionary artist, Brown choreographed Once On This Island and Choir Boy, for which she received a Tony nomination in 2019. In more than two decades, she was the first Black female choreographer to receive this honor. Brown is also known for her work on Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, the Oscar nominated Netflix film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Metropolitan Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess. She is the founder and artistic director of the award-winning dance company Camille A. Brown and Dancers.
“It is an honor to help usher the return of Ntozake Shange’s groundbreaking work to Broadway under the direction and choreography of Camille A. Brown, who is herself blazing a new path on Broadway as the first Black woman in more than 65 years taking on this dual role,” said producer Ron Simons. “I am quite confident that the ancestors and Ntozake’s spirit are lifted.”
Brown’s work mines deeply personal experiences as it delves into both ancestral stories and contemporary culture. She is known for addressing issues of identity in her work.
“Social dance for social change is reclaiming Black narratives, giving African Diaspora culture its rightful place in American culture, fostering learning and creativity and spreading the joy of dance,” writes Brown on her website. “It aims to create safe spaces for healing and connection, and a creative environment for leadership building and consciousness raising.”