I had heard a while ago that Tyler Perry was going to produce For Colored Girls and I was not happy. I mean, this work of art was an icon of my very young adult hood. The play and its characters meant something to me. I knew them and they were me. I had read the prose poem until I knew parts of it verbatim. So, when I heard that Tyler Perry was going to do the movie, I had issues.
I know that TPS can do more than the Madea movies. I have always believed that. And, I have always believed that Tyler Perry is working toward becoming a great teller of the stories of African American people. My first concern, though was that this particular story was over his head.
There was a rumor (and I dont know if it is true or not) that Beyonce would have a role. I swore that if Beyonce was in this movie, I would not see it. I know that any of the characters would be beyond Beyonce’s fledgling acting talent. Sorry, Bey, but I gotta call it like I see it.
Anyway, there was no Beyonce role but I still had my reservations about Tyler Perry. I did, however, go to see the movie on opening night. I went with a group of 4 high school and college aged girls that I mentor and a friend from work. The younger girls were not really familiar with Ntozake Shange, the original play or prose poem. So we got our tickets, popcorn and diet colas and seated ourselves in the theater to watch the movie.
First, let me tell you. The entire theater felt like a Circle of My Sisters meeting. There were women of all ages from high school to good and retired. Everyone seemed to come with their ‘girls’. I saw groups of sorors from different Greek organizations, Eastern Stars, groups of two and three BFFs, a bridge club, a couple of bookclubs, and some crews of ride or die homegirls. It was fabulous and felt good to see all of us black girls there representing.
So the movie starts and it was on. Ok, there was a little more commentary and nervous laughter than I really care for. And the movie? It was good. The cast and the acting was excellent. I could not have asked for better. I felt a connection to the stories and even recognized some of the poem in the dialogue. I enjoyed it more after I got over the fact that it wasn’t really the movie version of the play that I was hoping for. Tyler modernized and screenplayed with the original and that wasn’t what I was looking for. He took artistic license and added in a couple of characters. I believe that he wanted to ensure that there was at least one image of a positive black man in the movie. I am not mad at that but that is still a departure from the original.
Yet, I am hoping for a revival of the original play. Hoping to, again, feel that story move me with the emotion and passion that I felt 35 years ago when I discovered For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide when the Rainbow was Enuf. In my most honest moments, I admit that I am pouty about the fact that For Colored Girls is about me and us as black women. So why is a man telling our story? I believe that the treatment would have been different if it had been done by a woman. There, I said it.