Gee’s Bend

Clockwise from top left Tracy Michelle Hughes, Faith Russell, Geoffery Simmons, Samantha Rund

Clockwise from top left Tracy Michelle Hughes, Faith Russell, Geoffery Simmons, Samantha Rund

I went to Taproot Theatre last night.  Sometimes you get the chance to see a piece of art that is transformational.

Gee’s Bend is one of those pieces of art.

Just like the patchwork quilts that the women of Gee’s Bend make, this play pieces together the impact of poverty, life, racism and faith against the backdrop of an African American family in Gee’s Bend, Alabama.  From the day they get their land, to the march in Selma with Martin Luther King, Jr., to seeing their quilts hang in the museums of New York City, the women of this family choose generosity of spirit over defeat in every situation and rise above.

Taproot is a medium sized theatre, seating just over 220 people, with a cozy feel.

They do an excellent job with their stage.  With just a few props, they create scene and atmosphere transitions seamlessly.  One of the richest parts of Gee’s Bend was the use of music in these transitions.  All of the actors have great voices, and sing to set atmosphere and mood.  Tracy Michelle Hughes and Geoffery Simmons in particular have incredible voices.

Gee’s Bend starts off a bit slow, but it is like a slow cooked stew.  Deep and rich.  As each ingredient of history is added to the family, the characters develop, the pace quickens (as it did in history), and the play ends with line after line of astounding humor.

Faith Russell (Alice)  starts the play with realism, Samantha Rund (Sadie) and Geoffery Simmons (Macon) reach great depth in the middle of the play. However, Tracy Michelle Hughes (Nella) develops her character to the point that she steals the show in the end.

Taproot have added a deeper element of culture to this run.  On February 18 and 21 the women from Gee’s Bend, AL will be speaking at a post-play discussion.  Taproot is also partnering with the Northwest African American Museum.  Members of the Pacific Northwest African American Quilters Association will be having post-play discussions on February 4, 11 and 25.  Through out the run, quilts created by members of the Pacific Northwest African American Quilters Association are on display in Taproot’s upper lobby.  They have been donated for an auction to benefit Taproot.  Bidding will run through 5:00pm on Sunday, March 8, 2009.

This play is only 90 minutes long, and perhaps the best review was from my husband, Wes, as we were leaving the theatre.  “That was the best play I have ever seen.”

You can buy tickets at Ticketmaster here.

You can also investigate Taproot’s Website here.

 

Faith Russell, Samantha Rund,  Tracy Michelle Hughes.

Left to right: Faith Russell, Samantha Rund, Tracy Michelle Hughes.

Samantha Rund and Geoffery  Simmons.

Left to right: Samantha Rund and Geoffery Simmons.

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