CAMILLE A. BROWN: First Black woman to be both director & choreographer on Broadway in over 65 years

Producers Nelle Nugent, Ron Simons and Kenneth Teaton announced on August 16, 2021 that Tony Award nominee Camille A. Brown will direct the upcoming production of Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf on Broadway in 2022. This will mark Brown’s directorial debut on Broadway.

Photo by Josefina Santos

Brown, who served as choreographer on the 2019 production of the play at The Public Theater off-Broadway, will also continue in her role as choreographer on Broadway, making her the first Black woman to serve as both director and choreographer on a Broadway production in more than 65 years.

Among the previous Broadway productions Brown has choreographed are Once On This Island and Choir Boy, for which she received a Tony nomination in 2019, making her the first Black female choreographer to receive the honor in more than two decades.  She is also known for her work on “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” the Oscar nominated Netflix film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, as well as the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess. She is the founder and artistic director of the award-winning dance company Camille A. Brown and Dancers.

“I’m extremely thrilled and honored to helm this new production of for colored girls…,” said Brown. “It’s an amazing feeling to bring this seminal show back to Broadway 45 years after it opened at the Booth Theatre on September 15, 1976. I look forward to diving into the divine Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem and celebrating her legacy.”  

“It is an honor to help usher the return of Ntozake Shange’s groundbreaking work to Broadway under the direction and choreography of Camille A. Brown, who is herself blazing a new path on Broadway as the first Black woman in more than 65 years taking on this dual role,” said producer Ron Simons. “I am quite confident that the ancestors and Ntozake’s spirit are lifted.”

A groundbreaking work in modern American theater, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf returned to The Public for the first time since it premiered in 1976, before its breakthrough run on Broadway.

Filled with passion, humor, and raw honesty, legendary playwright/poet Ntozake Shange‘s form-changing choreopoem tells the stories of seven Black women using poetry, song and movement. With unflinching honesty and emotion, each woman voices her survival story of having to exist in a world shaped by sexism and racism. 

CAMILLE A. BROWN is a prolific Black female director / choreographer, who has received numerous honors including a Guggenheim Award, Bessie Award, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, Doris Duke Artist Award, United States Artists Award, 2 Audelco Awards, 5 Princess Grace Awards, and a New York City Center Award. She has received a Tony nomination, 3 Drama Desk nominations, 3 Lortel nominations and an Obie award for her work in theater. She is an Emerson Collective fellow, a TED fellow and the recipient of a Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship. Brown is the 2021 Distinguished Artist, presented by The International Society for the Performing Arts. 

Broadway and off-Broadway include: Choir BoyOnce On This Island, Toni Stone, A Streetcar Named Desire, Much Ado About Nothing, for colored girls… Film/Television: Academy Award-winning Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Emmy Award-winning “Jesus Christ Superstar Live.” Ms. Brown choreographed the critically acclaimed Porgy and Bess for The Metropolitan Opera and this September will become the first Black woman director for the main stage at the MET with Fire Shut Up In My Bones. Brown is the founder and Artistic Director of Camille A. Brown & Dancers. 

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Header image courtesy of University of North Carolina School of the Arts

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