Yolanda's older brother has just been slain on the streets of Brooklyn by a random act of violence. Before she can fully process the murder, her mother ships her off to family in South Carolina in hopes of saving at least one child. The transition is jarring, to say the least. Yolanda doesn't understand country living or the culture of the South, and she certainly doesn't understand her relatives' fascination with hats. But for this older, more religious generation, chapeaus are both a sartorial expression of style and grace and an absolute necessity if you're going to church — and you are going to church. As Yolanda begins to know her relatives — especially her grandmother, Mother Shaw — she learns about dressing well, history and her own culture. And with that knowledge comes the realization that you earn as much pride as you give yourself. The Black Rep throws open the doors on its 42nd season with Regina Taylor's play Crowns
. Performances take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday (September 7 to 23) at Washington University's Edison Theatre (6445 Forsyth Boulevard; www.theblackrep.org
). Tickets are $15 to $45, and now more than ever, dress to impress on opening night.