By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer
dark phases of womanhood
of never havin been a girl
without rhythm / no tune
distraught laughter fallin
over a black girl's shoulder
it's funny / it's hysterical
the melody-less-ness of her dance...
These opening lines of the choreo-poem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf ... marked a theatrical breakthrough when Ntozake Shange brought together spoken word, movement and message to contemplate the state of African-American womanhood almost 30 years ago.
Colored Girls remains a powerful work today, which is why mother and daughter Denise and Kimisha Davis of Amberley Village made the commitment to be part of the Cincinnati Black Theatre Company production, opening Friday and continuing through Feb. 22 at Arts Consortium in the West End.
Kimisha, a School for Creative and Performing Arts senior, has auditions for university theater programs scheduled throughout the month - in and out of Cincinnati.
They both feel the experience is important enough, though, to work their schedules around it.
"As soon as I read the play, I knew I wanted to do it," says Kimisha, who talked her mother into making her stage debut. Denise, a radio and cable TV veteran and author, all on the subject of Health, Wellness and Restoration: Restoring Your Health the Natural Way, credits Kimisha with talking her into a lot of things over the last few years, including becoming vegetarian.
Joining the cast of For Colored Girls didn't require much persuasion. Denise Davis was immediately attracted to a script that has been hailed for the way it, "deals with different qualities of womanhood, and of African-American womanhood."
While they've been rehearsing together - because a big part of trying out for the show was about being with Kimisha, Denise says - Colored Girls is double cast, so they won't be on stage at the same time in performance very often.
Kimisha, the youngest member of the company, plays the Lady in Green this weekend and will share the stage with a cast that includes Cincinnati Councilwoman Laketa Cole. Denise is the party-loving Lady in Orange and performs Feb. 12-15. The call for closing weekend has not yet been determined.
Kimisha sees moving beyond an SCPA production as, "a rite of passage."
Denise believes that rite of passage includes "learning about living, dying, sacrifice, love, pain" and especially "learning from the remarkable women we're working with."
If you go
What: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf
Where: Arts Consortium, 1515 Linn St., West End
When: Opens Friday. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday, through Feb. 22.
Tickets: $18. 421-1100, 241-6060 and www.cincyblacktheatre.com
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