The Color Lavender: Audience Reception, Adaptation, and Performance of The Color Purple
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Since its introduction to the world, Alice Walker?s The Color Purple has been recreated in other media. Audiences are just as likely to have learned about Celie's journey from the 1985 Warner Bros.' movie or the 2005 Tony Award-winning musical as from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Each iteration of The Color Purple offers ambivalent representations of Black female experience in the early 20th century era of the American South. My research thus far has placed me in the midst of other audience members enjoying the highs and lows of Celie's on-stage story and behind a desk shuffling through Walker's personal letters and manuscripts. In my research I look at all three performances of The Color Purple-the book, film, and musical-in order to evaluate the broader scope of effects created by all three. The three primary areas of my research are audience reception, adaptation, and performance, which allow me to analyze the impact of portrayed Blackness in The Color Purple. In my research I define all three media as performance and analyze specific alterations as the performances shift from novel to screenplay to musical. Interrogating the various adaptations between the three media, I analyze how each director, author, and playwright represented the fundamentals of race, gender and class in their performance of The Color Purple. Though the generic differences between literature, film, and the stage are enough to ensure that the representations will be different, I'm interested in the impact of those changes. Using reviews and other testimony of audience experience, I am exploring the potential of each performance to influence personal and social change.
SubjectWalker, performance, racial ventriloquism, adaptation, audience reception, Spielberg, musical, novel, movie
Melton, Elizabeth M. (2010). The Color Lavender: Audience Reception, Adaptation, and Performance of The Color Purple. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from