Poet and playwright Ntozake Shange has read from her prolific body of work in venues around the world.
This Friday, July 12, the literary lion will recite a selection of her writings in – and for – her Bedford-Stuyvesant community during “An Intimate Evening with Ntozake Shange”, a fundraiser at the Sugar Hill Restaurant & Supper Club, 609 DeKalb Ave.
Shange, a resident of Bed-Stuy for six years, is lending her tremendous talents and boldface name to a fundraiser for the Monroe Street Block Association 400. Proceeds will support the association’s efforts to make the area an even better place to live and visit.
“It’s my neighborhood,” Shange said of why she’s supporting the fundraiser. “It’s truly a neighborhood: we talk to each other, we do things with each other and for each other and we watch out for our children. We wanted to do this so that we can do more things for the neighborhood.
“The neighborhood is already rich,” she continued as she sat in her home, whose walls are adorned with photographs of her taken over the years. “We have producers, musicians, newspaper people. We’re celebrating the plenty that we have.”
Actress, community activist and comedienne Phyllis Yvonne Stickney will host the program, which, in addition to Shange, also will include musical performances and provocative conversation.
Among some readers and theatergoers, Shange is perhaps best known for “for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf,” her groundbreaking Tony Award-nominated choreopoem that was performed on Broadway and off-Broadway and won an Obie Award in 1977.
In 2010, a theatrical film adaptation, For Colored Girls, was released.
Shange’s oeuvre, which also includes dozens of other poetic plays, novels, essays, and children’s books, influenced a generation of spoken-word poets, playwrights and performance artists. Brooklyn son Biggie Smalls was turned on to Shange’s work by his writer-friend dream hampton.
Shange, who was born in Trenton, N.J., and raised there and in St. Louis, Mo., earned a Bachelor of Arts from Barnard College and a Master of Arts from the University of Southern California, both degrees in American Studies. In addition to the Obie, she’s received numerous honors and fellowships and has lectured on the humanities, women’s studies and writing at many colleges and universities. Shange also has danced professionally, directed and acted.
“We feel very fortunate to have Ntozake Shange living in the Bed-Stuy community,” said Monroe Street Block Association 400 President Eugene Jensen. “And to have her support for this fundraiser – we are grateful beyond words.”
“An Intimate Evening with Ntozake Shange” will begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 12 at Sugar Hill Restaurant & Supper Club, 609 DeKalb Ave. Seating is limited. Tickets are $25 each. Call Eugene Jensen at 347-526-9831 or Evette Lewis at 917-200-4487.