Abrina Hyatt

Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities

20142015 Forum on Color

Abrina Hyatt


College of Arts & Sciences, 2015

Abrina is a senior majoring in English, minoring in Africana Studies and Spanish. She is interested in the relation between dance and African American literature, and how verbal and bodily language function together in texts. Currently she is working on her English honors thesis, "Don't Tell Nobody, Don't Tell A Soul": Black Women's Subjectivity, Choreopoetry, and Activism in Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls, in which she is analyzing the way in which Shange uses language as a force of performance activism. As a Mellon Undergraduate Fellow with the Penn Humanities Forum, she is studying color dynamics as part of her analysis of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf. In particular, she is looking at the racial implications of "the Rainbow" and how color functions when used to identify each character (for example, "the lady in brown," "the lady in red"). Abrina is also member of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, former co-chair of Umoja, a coalition of students and student groups of the African Diaspora at Penn, and a member of Penn's African Rhythms dance troupe and of God's Property. She is also on the student staff of Makuu: The Black Cultural Center.

Finding God in Oneself & For Colored Girls: A Revolutionary Performance of Language, Naming & Spacing

This project analyzes the powerful implications of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf in terms of the language of “choreopoetry,” the identity politics present in the experiences of Black women, and the elements of spirituality that move Shange’s work forward. I argue that For Colored Girls offers Black women a space to celebrate the fullness and diversity of themselves, regardless of where they fall within the spectrum of characters represented. Shange’s work is groundbreaking in its usage of dance and poetry as joint storytelling language, and with Black women as the titular characters and target audience for this piece. For Colored Girls reshapes how we can continue to enjoy creative processes in theater, writing, poetry, dance, literature, and so much more. This piece has and continues to breathe life and beauty into stories that often go ignored.