for colored girls... was first performed at the Bacchanal, a woman's bar, with four other artists at a women’s bar outside outside of Berkeley, California. About six months after performing the work in California, Shange and her collaborator, Paula Moss, decided to move across the country determined to perform it in New York City's downtown alternative spaces. At the age of 27, Shange moved to New York where, in July 1975, for colored girls was professionally produced in New York City at Studio Rivbea in 1975. East coast audiences were soon able to experience Shange’s performance piece at venues including Studio Rivbea, the Old Reliable, and DeMonte's beginning in July 1975 and then starting in March 1976 at the Henry Street Settlement’s New Federal Theatre. The show grew increasingly popular, especially among African American and Latino audiences. As a result, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf opened at the Public Theater in June 1976. Three months later, in September, it was performed at the Booth Theater on Broadway, where it was continued until July 1978 and ran for 742 shows. Shange performed as the "lady in orange" at the Broadway opening. It was also published in book form in 1977 by Macmillan Publishing, followed by a Literary Guild edition in October 1977 and Bantam Books editions beginning in 1980.
In 1982 for colored girls... was adapted for television on WNET-TV, PBS, as part of The American Playhouse series. Although for colored girls went from a play production to television one, it is considered a telefilm and not a teleplay. The adaptation is considered a telefilm because the performance on WNET-TV was seems as a serious departure from the Broadway production.
In 2009 Tyler Perry announced that he would produce Shange's for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf. The film was the first project for 34th Street Films, Perry's new production company housed in Lionsgate The cast included Loretta Devine, Kimberly Elise, Whoopi Goldberg, Janet Jackson, Phylicia Rashād, Anika Noni Rose, Kerry Washington and Thandie Newton. Originally using the play's full title, the film's title was shortened to For Colored Girls in September 2010.