Ntozake Shange, a spoken-word artist who morphed into a playwright with her canonical play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf,” died on Saturday in Bowie, Md. She was 70.
Her death was confirmed by her sister Ifa Bayeza, who said she had been in fragile health since a pair of strokes more than a decade ago.
Only 27 years old when “For Colored Girls” opened at the Booth Theater in 1976, Ms. Shange was a Broadway rarity on two counts: She was black and she was a woman. But her unconventional play was a hit and nominated for a Tony Award. A series of searing feminist monologues for seven black female characters named for the colors of the rainbow — Ms. Shange herself played the Lady in Orange — it inspired generations of playwrights coming up behind her.
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