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Review of the Play - Crowns - Old Ladies and Their Church Hats

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Old ladies and Their Church Hats

Recently, I attended a play about hats, to specify, hats that were predominately worn by African-American women in church. The play was titled 'Crowns' directed by Regina Taylor. This play has been around for at least eight years. I'm implying when I say that 'Crowns" is successful due to the number of years it has been around. The play Crowns was a mixture of this era and two generations before this era. 'Crowns' is based on the book Crowns: Portraits of black women in church hats by Michael Cunningham. These hats were these people's lives and their children and their grand children's lives. The hats are their crowns that they wear proudly. This play has many different stories from different perspectives.

'Crowns' was played at The Murphy Fine Arts Center at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 10, 2011. The main characters of 'crowns' are Wanda, Jeanette, Velma, Yolanda, Mother Shaw, Mabel, and a man who is not named. The play opened up with a music scene that was African themed. There were drums beating in the background and a man with a stick in African clothing walking around in the opening scene. After that children in modern-day clothing came out walking around as well. A girl came to the center stage and started speaking. She is from Brooklyn, NY, and has move to South Carolina with her grandmother named Mother Shaw. The name of the girl is Yolanda and she has seen tragedy her brother was shot and killed in New York. Yolanda is welcomed by women of the community.

Before the morning church service the women get dressed and explain the rules and regulation of the art of hat wearing. For example, there is a specific way of hugging with a hat. First you must leave space and then turn your head all the way to side, also never let anyone touch the hat. One of the ladies explains exactly why in the black community people get so fancy for church. It is because in the slavery time the only time the slaves could express themselves was in church. Mother Shaw gives Yolanda a church that she does not want to wear. Yolanda wants to wear her brothers baseball hat and challenge all the ladies but doesn't. In church Yolanda is overwhelmed by the spirit of the southerners and the dances they perform. Yolanda breaks away from everyone and does her own dance, something that would be normal in Brooklyn. This shows that Yolanda is feeling out of place and feeling homesickness. The women try to embrace her with stories of losing men in their life. Yolanda tells her story last. By the end of the play the women take Yolanda in as if she was their own, and Yolanda truly understands her ancestry and the art of hat wearing.

At the beginning of the play, I felt that a play about church was out of the ordinary. The opening scene was especially confusing to me. There were so many cultures and generations on



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