In November, the award-winning drama “Gee’s Bend” will be at the Youngstown Playhouse for two weekends. The play is an intimate look at an African-American family that begins in the late 30s and moves through the new millennium. As the play progresses, topics like the Great Depression and the Civil Rights Movement are covered from the perspective of a rural community that is mostly cut-off from society. The Youngstown Playhouse production of “Gee’s Bend” is directed by Carla Gipson, who also brought attention to the play when she showed it to her executive director. “I had heard of the play, and gotten information about it online after it played at the Cleveland Playhouse,” she said. “I was really interested in the history that lies behind it, both the American history and the history of Gee’s Bend.” Gee’s Bend is a real town in Alabama, with a history of creating some of the most beautiful and original quilts ever seen. In the retelling of that history through drama, information is revealed that might otherwise be overlooked. “When you read the story,” Gipson related, “you understand and comprehend what’s happening, but you want more. This is a biographical piece, with events from the Depression to civil rights, and the story relates directly back to those moments in time.” The director wasn’t the only one affected by the story. “On a certain level, it has affected everyone involved,” she continued. “There have been discussions started by the actors in rehearsals. I’m a child of the 60s, so I was able to explain what happened during that period. I was young then, but I still was able to relate what was happening and how it made us feel. It’s a good history lesson for all of us.” Some of that history sounds unbelievable. A good example is the reaction to the citizens of Gee’s Bend involving themselves in the march from Selma to Montgomery. The town is a small community, accessible in the 60s by a small ferry that took people and products into more populated areas. After the townspeople started using the ferry to travel to civil rights protests, it was decommissioned – and it wasn’t brought back into use until 2002. It was issues like that which started the quilting movement in Gee’s Bend. A local pastor and civil rights leader started the Freedom Quilting Bee, a group designed to help the townswomen earn their own money. Through those quilts, they were able to get their work into large department stores and begin to make a better life for themselves and their families. Eventually, the quilts went on display in major museums from New York to Denver, with art critics relating the work and design to other famous artists. But at its heart, “Gee’s Bend” is a story of close-relations and how they’re affected by the ever-changing outside world. When Sadie, the play’s lead character, gets beaten during a protest march, her husband locks her out of the house to teach her a lesson. The women begin creating the quilts not because they’re hoping to get rich or famous, but because it is the best – or only – option. They made them because they “had nothin’ else.” The Youngstown Playhouse performance is being held in the Moyer Room (the Black Box), which is a smaller, more intimate setting than the big stage. The arena seating lends itself to a closeness for the audience larger venues don’t provide. Simple set designs will bring the actor’s performances to the forefront. Because of the smaller room, reservations are highly suggested. “Gee’s Bend” is running on November 11, 12, 18 and 19. A local quilting exhibit will be installed in the lobby, which will showcase a history of American quilting. The exhibit will be open to anyone that wants to see it, whether they are a ticket holder or not. Tickets can be reserved by calling the Youngstown Playhouse at (330) 788-8739. Get them early so you don’t miss this stellar show.