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She Gives Us Strength - FOR COLORED GIRLS... Creative Team Interview #5 (Jiyoun Chang)

Ntozake Shange left behind a legacy, creating a collective language for many women of color with her work. To celebrate this revival and the all-women of color creative team of FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE/WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF, we invited photographer CHRISTINE CHAMBERS to capture the creative team through the lens of her portrait photography. Outside the photography studio, we asked the team to reflect on what being on this production and part of an all-women of color creative team means today and for the future.
 
Fifth in this series of interviews is Jiyoun Chang.
 

What does the legacy of for colored girls… mean to you, and how has that impacted your work?

I personally have a big debt to the play for the legacy. for colored girls…. was the first show I ever designed when I was very young just before I started to learn how to design lights. I believe I didn’t really understand the play back then and had no clear direction. It was all very depressing and dark. It's different now with Leah C. Gardiner’s direction. It has been very clear from the very beginning that we are here to celebrate women’s strength and grace, to move on even when everything in our lives right now tell us that we don’t have much hope, and that celebration happens by sharing our own story with other women – by crying and laughing together. Pain has its own place, but we don’t die with it. We move on from it and become more compassionate, more graceful and more powerful. I’m very excited about that legacy, and I want to honor that through my work, uplifting, festive, inspiring, and full of unbearable love.

What has your experience working on an all women of color design team been like?

Working with those women has been beyond my expectation. I think the best part of this team is that how different we are from each other, and at the same time they all are genuinely kind, eloquent, and smart women, and I couldn't’ ask for more. Especially collaborating with Myung Hee Cho is very special to me.

What is your biggest challenge as a designer?

RAINBOW ROOM. That is all I can say. ;)

Who/what inspires you in your designs?

Leah C. Gardiner was very clear from the beginning that this play is about celebration of women’s strength, love, and sisterhood, and we need to share that with everyone who comes to see the show. Her direction inspired me, and I really hope that my work shows that spirit.

What is your advice to women of color interested in pursuing a career similar to yours?

We need more of you. Please make sure you love what you do and be good at, and just keep going.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Photo by Christine Chambers