The Color Purple Director’s Notes

By Amina Robinson 

When thinking about The Color Purple, I am brought back to a time in my childhood when my mother and grandmother told me I was not allowed to go with them to see the movie because it was “too mature” for me. I was seven. It would be years later that I was able to experience (with my mother) the journey of The Color Purple and the most beautifully intimate story of Celie. We would watch it, laugh out loud, and cry a lot. We loved a good “tear-jerker.”

 Picking up right on the heels of—or rather a few births away from the enslavement of African people in America, when a nation building on the backs on humans, degradation, and disenfranchisement reigned supreme— The Color Purple explored a slice of an American life. One that is born into the devaluation of Black bodies, one that is born into the inherited violence and inherently imposed limitations found in America, while white nationalism sought to handle its newfound “Negro problem.” 

The Color Purple is a story of an entire people, filtered through the life of one woman, named Celie. A woman who is abused by people who have been abused. She is a woman who has no voice and struggles to find her worth in a world which seeks to silence her, because they too have been silenced. A woman who is degraded by degraded people. A people living the aftermath of literally being bought and sold and who are trying to tap back into the source of what makes them beautifully human and intrinsically free.

The Color Purple is a testament to the exuberant sturdiness of Black womanhood specifically and humanity universally. It is a celebration of growing into self-ownership and self-love. The Color Purple calls us to live and walk in our truths. It presents Black women loving on one another, growing with one another, and supporting one another. This narrative is one that goes against many tropes about Black women and is an exciting exploration for me with this production. 

As an adult, I no longer question why I was not allowed to go to the movies in 1985. I understand that my mom and mom-mom wanted, in their own way, to spare me the realities of the legacy that awaited me in my future. You know… sometimes the more things change the more they stay the same. The Color Purple allows us to experience a slice of where we have come from and hopefully grow a future that bears no resemblance.