I was able to speak with Director Dianne Shaw about directing The Color Purple. The show will take place at the Arts United Center at Arts Campus Fort Wayne opening February 9, 2024, through February 18, 2024.
The Color Purple is an inspiring family saga that tells the unforgettable story of a woman who, through love, finds the strength to triumph over adversity and discover her unique voice in the world. This musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (and the popular 1985 Steven Spielberg film) spotlights Celie, a downtrodden young woman whose personal awakening over the course of 40 years forms the arc of this epic story. With a joyous score featuring jazz, ragtime, gospel, African music, and blues, The Color Purple is a story of hope, a testament to the healing power of love, and a celebration of life. Auditions will start in November along with rehearsals in January.
Dianne Shaw lived in Fort Wayne for about 15 years and now resides out of state in Chicago. She has very fond memories of her time here with friends and even remembers taking a bus trip to see The Color Purple with a group from Fort Wayne years ago. She previously directed Dream Girls and 9 to 5. She described her excitement as we talked, to be called by Phillip H. Colglazier, Executive Artistic Director from the Civic Theatre to direct The Color Purple as it is one of her all-time favorite books.
Dianne also has acted in several shows over the years including the Wiz and others.
She loves to direct and has previously worked with the Civic when she was here in Fort Wayne. She told me of her time as assistant director for A Raisin in the Sun and how she enjoyed that opportunity. She has also sat on the board for the Civic Theatre for 4 years and was even the Vice President during her tenure.
Dianne mentioned the relevance of the themes and messages in The Color Purple as it relates to current controversies with banned books across the nation. She appreciates the tenacity of Celie, the poor 14-year-old African American girl living in rural Georgia in the early 1900s that the story centers around. Celie faces constant trials and tribulations that can be relevant now within many of our own lives and journeys through life.
Dianne loves Fort Wayne and the opportunities she’s experienced here. She feels that the city gives people opportunities to do what they are interested in and as a transplant of Fort Wayne myself and having lived here 16 years now, I agreed with her sentiment.
The Color Purple is a 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. It was later adapted into a film and musical of the same name.
The novel has been the frequent target of censors and appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000–2010 at number seventeen because of the sometimes-explicit content, particularly in terms of violence. In 2003, the book was listed on the BBC’s The Big Read poll of the UK’s “best-loved novels.”
The Color Purple novel has been adapted in a variety of mediums including (1985 film), The Color Purple (musical), and The Color Purple (2023 film). The 2023 film will be released on December 25, 2023.
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