By Regina Toth
A new musical premiers at Curve Theatre this Friday, the 28th of June 2019. The Color Purple is a co-production between Curve and the Birmingham Hippodrome and is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same title by Alice Walker. The novel was written in 1982 and three years later, in 1985, was adapted into a film directed by Steven Spielberg. The story follows the life of a young African American girl, Celie, growing up in the South of the US in the 1930s. The audience gets an insight into the struggles and the extremely low position of black women in American society in those days.
The musical adaptation – the very same Curve is putting on – opened on Broadway in December 2005 and was a huge success, gaining various Tony nominations.
“…when the entire world turns against you and you’re abused, abandoned and unwanted.”
Curve’s “The Color Purple” is directed by Tinuke Craig, who when asked about working on this production and the key elements of the story said “what’s important is that we don’t try to hide from the trauma of quite a violent and oppressive tale.” In order to understand the kind of trauma and violence Craig is talking about, it’s important to know that the novel is structured in a series of letters that young Celie sends to God about the physical and sexual abuse she gets from her own father. The director goes on to explain that in his eyes the story “really centres around the idea of what happens when the entire world turns against you and you’re abused, abandoned and unwanted.” The musical follows Celie’s life as over the course of 40 years she “tries to find […] or learn to accept life without [the] fundamental elements taken away from her – her innocence, love, autonomy, education, body…”
Such a serious, dramatic story made into a musical, one might wonder why the genre has been chosen for the adaptation of Walker’s novel. In answer to this, Tinuke Craig shared that in his opinion “the story is pain but that’s also what makes it work so well as a musical – the songs are powerful and upbeat but give an emotional release that feels crucial.”
This musical encompasses feelings and ideas and most importantly concerns, that are still very present in our society. The Curve’s production invites us to recognise these issues presented to us in a brilliant theatrical creation and dare to think about them, dare to have an opinion and dare to feel alongside Celie as she reaches the end of her journey. If you like controversial themes and plays that evoke thought and reflection, then you should definitely put this on your Summer Bucket List.
The Color Purple at Curve is starring T’Shan Williams as Celie, Joanna Francis as Shug Avery, Ako Mitchell as Mister, Simon-Anthony Rhoden as Mister’s son Harpo, Karen Mavundukure as his wife Sophia, Danielle Fiamanya as Celie’s sister Nettie and Delroy Brown as Pa.
The show premieres on the 28th of June at and stays in Leicester until the 13th of July, after which from the 16th to the 20th of July it can be seen in Birmingham.
For more information and to book tickets online, you can visit www.curveonline.co.uk or call 0116 242 3595. You can also visit the Box Office team in person at Curve.