Just the title of the play is complex.
For those who aren’t aware, it was just announced that Tyler Perry will be adapting and directing this stage-play for the screen. Now, I am not here to lambast Tyler Perry’s cinematic style or technique (that’s another post), but I have to acknowledge that his films tend to stick to a particular formula that I cannot foresee as effective or liberating for this particular adaptation. The formula, when concerning central female characters goes a little something like this: woman is wronged by a man, woman undergoes some conflict and emotional anguish as a result, woman gets back at the man with or without help of Madea, woman finds a new man and learns to love herself and God, and lives happily ever after. This has been a consistent pattern in numerous Perry films. Of course, no director should be confined to any one style, but this is the one that Perry has become known for.
However, a story such as “For Colored Girls” needs and deserves more. It does not follow or conform to a formula, let alone the aforementioned. It is a deeply personal and complex weaving of poems dealing with rape, abortion, love, and rites of passages for several different black women. I once performed as “Lady in Yellow” for an audition reel and it was one of the best performance experiences of my life- truly cathartic in a way that I really felt the pain, anger, and excitement of this young woman who’d just graduated from high school. That to say- I’m just not sure that Perry is the best directorial pick for this film about the inner lives and pain of women.
I think this announcement is a wake-up call for more women directors to write, direct, and adapt stories that deal with our own lives, such as this one. I know the decision for Perry to direct this film probably had nothing to do with whether there weren’t enough women who could do it (because there are: Gina Prince-Bythewood, Kasi Lemmons, etc. etc.), but it still lights a fire under me to really take further control of my storytelling in film, and to encourage of other women as well.
And then, perhaps I’ll be proved wrong. Perhaps the adaptation will be riveting. Who knows. But I remain critical.