Does the Tyler Perry trademark ever take a rest? With Lionsgate Film in his corner, Perry has decided to adapt and direct Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf. The classic 1975 choreopoem about black women that started at a woman's bar in Berkeley and landed on Broadway. No small feat for any 1970s theater artist of color, particularly the marginalized female theater artist of color. Every legit black actress I know either loves, performed, quotes, remembers, or was transformed by Shange's unflinching tribute to the unspoken angst and survival of black women. For Colored Girls is one of those classic texts that ranks up there with Othello and A Doll's House. Okay. Now you have the back story.
Here's the crazy. I knew about Perry's interest in For Colored Girls a few months ago. I was told at one of those Who's Who in Black Theater BBQs that Shange and Perry were at odds. Allegedly, Shange was open to her play being adapted, but she was not interested in Perry's interest in placing Madea in the play. Allegedly, Perry was determined to make a mark as a legit director, but Shange wanted to adapt her own script. Allegedly, Shange, whose known to speak her mind and fearlessly, was a bit afraid of the Perry "touch". I left the Who's Who BBQ hoping the Perry/Rainbow gossip would never amount to actualization. Well, it has.
Look, I hear Tyler Perry is a cool guy and I believe that. He doesn't have the cleanest business plate, but hey, he's in it for the money, so that goes with the territory. I'm not even in the fetish of trashing Perry anymore. Folks like him and that's that. But somebody needs to tell Perry that some things are off-limits. Somebody needs to tell him that it's okay to make audiences laugh or cry with chitlin-style melodrama and be happy with that. Somebody needs to tell Perry that his quest to prove to the naysayers that he can make "art" is not necessary. In fact, it's a little embarrassing. Wealth and popularity does not make one capable of anything. Wait a minute. P. Diddy bought his way into Broadway's Raisin in the Sun. I guess wealth and popularity does crown one king of capable of anything.
Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.