Shange, Ntozake

Shange, Ntozake

▪ American author
original name  Paulette Williams  
born Oct. 18, 1948, Trenton, N.J., U.S.
 
 African American author of plays, poetry, and fiction noted for their feminist themes and racial and sexual anger.

 Shange attended Barnard College (B.A., 1970) and the University of Southern California (M.A., 1973). From 1972 to 1975 she taught humanities, women's studies, and Afro-American studies at California colleges. During this period she also made public appearances as a dancer and reciter of poetry. Her 1975 theatre piece For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf quickly brought her fame. Written for seven actors, For Colored Girls is a group of 20 poems on the power of black women to survive in the face of despair and pain. It ran for seven months Off-Broadway in New York City, then moved to Broadway and was subsequently produced throughout the United States and broadcast on television.

      Shange created a number of other theatre works that employed poetry, dance, and music while abandoning conventions of plot and character development. One of the most popular of these was her 1980 adaptation of Bertolt Brecht (Brecht, Bertolt)'s Mother Courage, featuring a black family in the time of the American Civil War.

      Shange's poetry collections include Nappy Edges (1978) and Ridin' the Moon in Texas (1987). She also published the novels Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo (1982), about the diverging lives of three sisters and their mother; the semiautobiographical Betsey Brown (1985); and Liliane: Resurrection of the Daughter (1994), a coming-of-age story about a wealthy black woman in the American South.

Additional Reading
Neal A. Lester, Ntozake Shange: A Critical Study of the Plays (1995), offers critical analysis.

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Universalium. 2010.

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