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<div><h1 class="m_-2456957251234921179css-2wh0do m_-2456957251234921179ejekc6u0" id="m_-2456957251234921179link-1d318895" style="margin:0px auto 1rem;padding:0px;border:0px;font-style:italic;font-variant:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:2.25rem;line-height:2.5rem;font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,"times new roman",times,serif;vertical-align:baseline;color:rgb(18,18,18);width:600px;max-width:600px"><span class="m_-2456957251234921179balancedHeadline" style="margin:0px;padding:0px;border:0px;font:inherit;vertical-align:baseline;display:inline-block;max-width:457.676px">Ntozake Shange, Who Wrote ‘For Colored Girls,’ Is Dead at 70</span></h1>
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<span class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1wp6toh m_-2456957251234921179e1olku6u0" style="margin:0px 7px 0px 0px;padding:0px;border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:0.9375rem;line-height:1.25rem;vertical-align:baseline">Ntozake Shange, right, in her play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” which was nominated for a Tony Award in 1977.</span><span class="m_-2456957251234921179emkp2hg1 m_-2456957251234921179css-1nwzsjy m_-2456957251234921179e18m0s9i0" style="margin:0px;padding:0px;border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:0.8125rem;line-height:1.125rem;vertical-align:baseline;display:inline-block;color:rgb(136,136,136);letter-spacing:0.01em"><span class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1ly73wi m_-2456957251234921179e1afaoz0" style="padding:0px;border:0px;font:inherit;vertical-align:baseline;width:1px;height:1px;overflow:hidden">Credit</span><span style="margin:0px;padding:0px;border:0px;font:inherit;vertical-align:baseline"><span class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1dv1kvn" style="padding:0px;border:0px;font:inherit;vertical-align:baseline;height:1px;overflow:hidden;width:1px">Credit</span><span style="margin:0px;padding:0px;border:0px;font:inherit;vertical-align:baseline">Bettmann/Getty Images</span></span></span>
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<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1bsd9ka m_-2456957251234921179e1x1pwtg1" style="border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:700;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:0.9375rem;line-height:1.3125rem;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;vertical-align:baseline;display:inline-block;letter-spacing:0.02em">By <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/by/laura-collins-hughes" class="m_-2456957251234921179css-luz7vr m_-2456957251234921179e1x1pwtg0" style="margin:0px;padding:0px;border:0px;font:inherit;vertical-align:baseline;color:rgb(0,0,0);display:inline" target="_blank"><span class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1baulvz" style="margin:0px;padding:0px;border:0px;font:inherit;vertical-align:baseline;display:inline-block;text-decoration-line:underline;text-decoration-color:rgb(204,204,204)">Laura Collins-Hughes</span></a></div>
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<div class="m_-2456957251234921179StoryBodyCompanionColumn m_-2456957251234921179css-p1yi70" style="margin:0px auto 1rem;padding:0px;border:0px;font:inherit;vertical-align:baseline;display:flex;height:508px;width:1170px">
<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-4w7y5l" style="padding:0px;border:0px;font:inherit;vertical-align:baseline;width:600px">
<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1xl4flh m_-2456957251234921179e2kc3sl0" style="margin-bottom:1.25rem;border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:1.1875rem;line-height:1.75rem;font-family:nyt-imperial,georgia,"times new roman",times,serif;vertical-align:baseline;width:600px;max-width:100%">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.</div>

<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1xl4flh m_-2456957251234921179e2kc3sl0" style="margin-bottom:1.25rem;border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:1.1875rem;line-height:1.75rem;font-family:nyt-imperial,georgia,"times new roman",times,serif;vertical-align:baseline;width:600px;max-width:100%">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.</div>

<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1xl4flh m_-2456957251234921179e2kc3sl0" style="margin-bottom:1.25rem;border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:1.1875rem;line-height:1.75rem;font-family:nyt-imperial,georgia,"times new roman",times,serif;vertical-align:baseline;width:600px;max-width:100%">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.</div>

<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1xl4flh m_-2456957251234921179e2kc3sl0" style="border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:1.1875rem;line-height:1.75rem;font-family:nyt-imperial,georgia,"times new roman",times,serif;vertical-align:baseline;width:600px;max-width:100%">Among them was the Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks, who in an interview on Sunday spoke fondly of encountering Ms. Shange in September at the Park Avenue Armory, at a brunch for playwrights.</div>
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<div class="m_-2456957251234921179StoryBodyCompanionColumn m_-2456957251234921179css-p1yi70" style="margin:0px auto 1rem;padding:0px;border:0px;font:inherit;vertical-align:baseline;display:flex;height:404px;width:1170px">
<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-4w7y5l" style="padding:0px;border:0px;font:inherit;vertical-align:baseline;width:600px">
<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1xl4flh m_-2456957251234921179e2kc3sl0" style="margin-bottom:1.25rem;border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:1.1875rem;line-height:1.75rem;font-family:nyt-imperial,georgia,"times new roman",times,serif;vertical-align:baseline;width:600px;max-width:100%">“I saw Ntozake enter the room,” Ms. Parks said, “and I stood up, and the younger playwrights said, ‘What’s the matter? Why are you standing?’ And I said, ‘The queen has just entered the room.’ ”</div>

<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1xl4flh m_-2456957251234921179e2kc3sl0" style="margin-bottom:1.25rem;border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:1.1875rem;line-height:1.75rem;font-family:nyt-imperial,georgia,"times new roman",times,serif;vertical-align:baseline;width:600px;max-width:100%">In her work, Ms. Shange was a champion of black women and girls, and in her trailblazing, she expanded the sense of what was possible for other black female artists.</div>

<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1xl4flh m_-2456957251234921179e2kc3sl0" style="border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:1.1875rem;line-height:1.75rem;font-family:nyt-imperial,georgia,"times new roman",times,serif;vertical-align:baseline;width:600px;max-width:100%">When Ms. Shange (her full name is pronounced en-toh-ZAH-kee SHAHN-gay) first arrived in the American theater, though, the response was not uniformly reverent. “For Colored Girls” won admiring reviews and an Obie Award for a production at the Public Theater, before it moved to Broadway. But the play’s forthright, personal discussion of trauma and abuse experienced by black women was taken by some as an affront to black men.</div>
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<span class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1wp6toh m_-2456957251234921179e1olku6u0" style="margin:0px 7px 0px 0px;padding:0px;border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:0.9375rem;line-height:1.25rem;vertical-align:baseline">Ms. Shange in 1977 in a production of “Where the Mississippi Meets the Amazon.” She wrote the play with Jessica Hagedorn and Thuiani Nkabinde, who also performed it with her.</span><span class="m_-2456957251234921179css-vuqh7u m_-2456957251234921179e18m0s9i0" style="margin:0px;padding:0px;border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:0.8125rem;line-height:1.125rem;vertical-align:baseline;display:inline-block;color:rgb(136,136,136);letter-spacing:0.01em"><span class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1ly73wi m_-2456957251234921179e1afaoz0" style="padding:0px;border:0px;font:inherit;vertical-align:baseline;width:1px;height:1px;overflow:hidden">Credit</span><span style="margin:0px;padding:0px;border:0px;font:inherit;vertical-align:baseline">Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times</span></span>
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<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1xl4flh m_-2456957251234921179e2kc3sl0" style="border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:1.1875rem;line-height:1.75rem;font-family:nyt-imperial,georgia,"times new roman",times,serif;vertical-align:baseline;width:600px;max-width:100%">“There was quite a ruckus about the seven ladies in their simple colored dresses,” Ms. Shange wrote decades later. “I was truly dumbfounded that I was right then and there deemed the biggest threat to black men since cotton pickin’, and not all women were in my corner, either.”</div>
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<div class="m_-2456957251234921179StoryBodyCompanionColumn m_-2456957251234921179css-p1yi70" style="margin:0px auto 1rem;padding:0px;border:0px;font:inherit;vertical-align:baseline;display:flex;height:800px;width:1170px">
<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-4w7y5l" style="padding:0px;border:0px;font:inherit;vertical-align:baseline;width:600px">
<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1xl4flh m_-2456957251234921179e2kc3sl0" style="margin-bottom:1.25rem;border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:1.1875rem;line-height:1.75rem;font-family:nyt-imperial,georgia,"times new roman",times,serif;vertical-align:baseline;width:600px;max-width:100%">Born Paulette Williams on Oct. 18, 1948, in Trenton, she was the daughter of Dr. Paul T. Williams, a surgeon, and Eloise Owens Williams, a professor of social work. She adopted a Zulu name as a young woman.</div>

<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1xl4flh m_-2456957251234921179e2kc3sl0" style="margin-bottom:1.25rem;border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:1.1875rem;line-height:1.75rem;font-family:nyt-imperial,georgia,"times new roman",times,serif;vertical-align:baseline;width:600px;max-width:100%">She was a graduate of Trenton High School, Barnard College and the University of Southern California, where she earned a master’s degree in American studies.</div>

<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1xl4flh m_-2456957251234921179e2kc3sl0" style="margin-bottom:1.25rem;border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:1.1875rem;line-height:1.75rem;font-family:nyt-imperial,georgia,"times new roman",times,serif;vertical-align:baseline;width:600px;max-width:100%">Her family said she had been affected deeply by the civil rights movement and had later participated in the antiwar movement and efforts to advance the rights of women, Puerto Ricans and black artists.</div>

<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1xl4flh m_-2456957251234921179e2kc3sl0" style="margin-bottom:1.25rem;border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:1.1875rem;line-height:1.75rem;font-family:nyt-imperial,georgia,"times new roman",times,serif;vertical-align:baseline;width:600px;max-width:100%">A novelist and poet who was unable to hold a pen for several years after suffering strokes, Ms. Shange had recently been giving poetry readings again, and she was working on a new book about dance. She had been pushing herself hard, though, and the activity depleted her, Ms. Bayeza said in a phone interview.</div>

<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1xl4flh m_-2456957251234921179e2kc3sl0" style="margin-bottom:1.25rem;border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:1.1875rem;line-height:1.75rem;font-family:nyt-imperial,georgia,"times new roman",times,serif;vertical-align:baseline;width:600px;max-width:100%">“The intensity with which she embraced life took its toll on her body,” Ms. Bayeza said. “The vulnerability that she was so willing to share with the world was still a vulnerability.”</div>

<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1xl4flh m_-2456957251234921179e2kc3sl0" style="border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:1.1875rem;line-height:1.75rem;font-family:nyt-imperial,georgia,"times new roman",times,serif;vertical-align:baseline;width:600px;max-width:100%">Ms. Shange, whose adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s “Mother Courage and Her Children” won an Obie citation, was the author of 15 plays, 19 poetry collections, six novels five children’s books and three essay collections. One of her novels, “Some Sing, Some Cry,” was written with Ms. Bayeza and told the history of African-American music and dance through seven generations of a fictional family.</div>
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<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-4w7y5l" style="padding:0px;border:0px;font:inherit;vertical-align:baseline;width:600px">
<div class="m_-2456957251234921179css-1xl4flh m_-2456957251234921179e2kc3sl0" style="border:0px;font-style:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-weight:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;font-size:1.1875rem;line-height:1.75rem;font-family:nyt-imperial,georgia,"times new roman",times,serif;vertical-align:baseline;width:600px;max-width:100%">It is an oeuvre all the more remarkable given what her family described as Ms. Shange’s struggles with bipolar disorder and addiction.</div>
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