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MARGO MOORER, IN HER OWN WORDS

From the initial reading to the final bow of the tour, Gee’s Bend has held a special place in my heart:  a very special place. I was so impressed with how well the language fit in my mouth, in my being; I made Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder “an honorary black girl” for handling the truth of the language and the root essence of the women.

I was honored to visit Lowndes County, Alabama, the home of the women of Gee’s Bend during the very first week of rehearsal.  It was actually being “on location” that  afforded the cast  the opportunity to sit with the playwright and the women and their families, to just talk and even have them produce a quilt top as they sat around, sang and reminisced about their lives. We prayed, ate and sang together and walked through the rooms of the house where the quilts adorned the beds.   We listened to their speech, marveled at the strength of the women and their gratitude for the cast not expecting them to “perform”, but to actually learn about them:  to come to know them as women and not objects.

I really connected with one of the oldest women there who told me at the opening, “You played me real good up there!” Then to do a command performance in Gee’s Bend, under a tent, on the land owned by these women, for them and their community, was beyond words. I am honored to revisit the role of Nella that I originated for the world premiere at Alabama Shakespeare Festival in 2007. I cherish the memory of these women and embrace the fact that plays like this don’t come around often.  Gee’s Bend is a journey, an experience that is once in a lifetime, and I am so grateful that it continues.

photos by Phil Scarsbrook, courtesy of Alabama Shakespeare Festival

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