The Subject Was Hats

Hats.  I don’t mean baseball caps or those stocking-type things you wear to keep your head warm; I mean elaborate ladies’ hats that make a statement when they enter the room.  Remember those?  Of course, you do! 

Tell me—does anyone really recall anything about the last Presidential inauguration other than Aretha Franklin’s hat?!  As I remember, there was even an article in the paper about women who had been into downtown businesses to inquire about purchasing reproductions of that show-stopping millinery.  Although I won’t name names, there are local women of my acquaintance whom I’ve seen sporting headwear for which the word “hat” seems wholly insufficient—I’ve even attended a wedding in which the mother of the groom wore a hat that was so big, so sparkly and so colorful that she risked upstaging the bride!  And she wore it like…a crown. 

The days when a lady did not appear in the street without a suitable head covering are long gone, and hats make increasingly rare appearances even on formal occasions.  However, there is one place where they are welcomed, expected, and some women even try to outdo one another in their extravagance—the traditionally African-American church.  That is the subject of Crowns, an award-winning play by actress and playwright Regina Taylor, adapted from the book by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry.  Coming to the Sumter Little Theatre next week, this story of life, love, loss and faith is recommended for all audiences. 

As described in the Sumter Little Theatre’s press release, “Yolanda loses her brother to street violence in Brooklyn, NY.  She is devastated…(and) moves to Darlington, SC to live with her grandmother, and gradually she comes to terms with her grief and loss,” as well as her own identity.  Through a series of scenes in this one-act play, the church ladies who speak “the language of the hat” (including words like “hattitude,” along with rap numbers and much teasing) inspire and uplift Yolanda in this acclaimed musical.

Whether or not you Celebrate the Hat (and to see what I’m talking about, check out photographer Cunningham’s website here), this slice of cultural history will teach, preach and entertain.  Directed by Eric Bultman, the play opens on Thursday, February 9, with performances running through February 12 and again from February 16-19, 2012.  The show begins at 8 p.m., except for the Sunday matinees that start at 3 p.m.  Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, students and military.  The Sumter Little Theatre is located at 14 Mood Avenue.  For more information, please call (803) 775-2150. 

(Images taken from various websites.  No copyright infringement intended.)

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