I am approaching this project from the creative avenue. I plan on writing my own choreopoem about a queer black experience. The term “choreopoem” was coined by Ntozake Shange and combines aspects of poetry, and stage plays. I was inspired by Ntozake Shange and her choreopoem “for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf”, which deals with black womanhood. Shange was a prominent figure of the Black Arts Movement, which at times was heavily centered around black male identity, and a preoccupation with masculinity against a Eurocentric template. Shange’s work speaks directly to black women, and their struggles. However, her work also praises black women and their strength and navigation through a tumultuous time of civil unrest.
I will begin my project by investigating Shange and her work through a critical introduction. This critical introduction will illustrate how exactly a choreopoem can operate, and explore how Shange navigated the Black Arts Movement. In result of her depictions of black men in her work, Shange was met with some backlash from black male critics. I will examine how Shange dealt with that critical reception, and how she ultimately succeeded in creating this new art form.
My plans for my own work are to delve into the queer black experience of living in the south. The setting for my play will be specifically the upstate and coastal regions of South Carolina. I will work within the perspective of one singular character at different stages of their life. My choreopoem will not follow a traditional theatrical stage production format, i.e., multiple acts, intermission, etc. Instead, I want to experiment with the parameters of a stage production—much in the way of Shange—creating an experience that showcases black queer expression.
I would be remiss if I did not include a warning for potentially jarring content to include but not limited to the following: sexual assault, racism, sexuality, eroticism, etc. Choreopoems give the creator a lot of freedom in regards to form and content. Due to the mixed media nature of choreopoems, I will utilize stage directions, music, and movement to my advantage. I am hoping to create a project that tells a story of blackness and queerness; I will not treat them as mutually exclusive subject matters.