Poet and playwright Ntozake Shange debuted her groundbreaking work, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf in 1974. Using an innovative form she defined as a choreopoem, a blend of poetry, storytelling, music, and dance, Shange presented a series of dramatic monologues that invoked the lives, loves, and struggles of women of color.

On September 15, 1976, for colored girls… opened at the Booth Theatre on Broadway and became a smash success, running for 742 performances. Since then, the play has been produced by theater companies around the world and also adapted for television and as a feature film. The three dresses seen above, designed by Judy Dearing, are from the Broadway production of for colored girls…. Each of the play’s seven female characters is named for a color. These dresses were worn by Lady in Red, Lady in Orange, and Lady in Purple.

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