"Gee's Bend" quilts bridging generations

Actors rehearsing a scene for the upcoming play "Gee's Bend." / Jessica Fairley

A play with historical significance is set to open in Albany this week.

"Gee's Bend" follows the lives of women who used the craft of quilt-making to bridge generations.

The plot is set in Gee's Bend, Alabama which is now known as Boykin, Alabama.

When the women of from the rural town began stitching together scraps of cloth, they never dreamed the shards of fabric would someday hang from museum walls. The spectacles of awe that once sold from $10 now run well into the thousands.

Even more than the surprise in price inflation, the women couldn't have known their family tradition would be placed center stage.

"The play tells a story of faith and family. Family is very important to stick together," said actress Geneva Fields.

Mark Costello, the director of the play, says people can identify with the closeness of family and the desire to pass down traditions.

The play opens in 1939 and follows the life of Sadie Pettway, a young teenager who eventually becomes her family's matriarch.

"She starts out very energetic and vibrant as a young girl and then as a woman. She continues on with that and it goes on to the Civil Rights era when she is really engaged in it," said actress Valerie Williams.

Sadie is a fictional character but her story mimics the lives of women who sewed each stitch with love.

"They started families early, so the skills were very few. So the one skill they did have was making quilts," said Actress Patricia Randal-Alford.

The director of the production view the ladies of Gee's Bend as an entity as colorful as their artwork.

"As Sadie says in the play that's our heritage up there. That's our heritage, our sweat, our blood our lives are embodied in those quilts and their lives are mosaic," said Mark Costello.

"Gee's Bend" can be viewed at the Theater Albany starting on February 2nd. The production will run through the 12th.

To see show times for the play follow the link.

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