Award Winning Playwright Makes Long-Awaited Broadway Debut
On March 4, 2017, Sweat began previews at Studio 54, following a successful Off-Broadway run at the Public Theater. This downtown staple of daring and innovative theatre was also the originating home of such Broadway hits as Hamilton, Fun Home, and Eclipsed. Sweat is a new play by Lynn Nottage, who has been writing plays for over 20 years, but this is the first time her work has been produced on Broadway. Some of her other acclaimed plays include By the Way, Meet Vera Stark; Ruined; and Intimate Apparel. Among her many accolades, Nottage has won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2009 for Ruined, as well as the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005, and the MacArthur Genius Grant in 2007. For Sweat, she won the 2016 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Sweat was co-commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon along with the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. The play then had its world premiere at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival from July to October 2015, directed by Kate Whorisky, who has continued to direct the piece to its present incarnation on Broadway. The play then moved to the Arena Stage, where it was mounted from January to February 2016. The New York premiere took place at the Public Theater from October to December 2016.
The cast for the Broadway production is almost identical to that of the Off-Broadway run, with the exception of the role of Jessie, which is played by Alison Wright in her Broadway debut. The other roles include Oscar, played by Carlo Albán (Broadway debut), Stan, played by James Colby (Hamlet), Chris, played by Khris Davis (Broadway debut), Tracey, played by Johanna Day (You Can’t Take It With You, August: Osage County), Brucie, played by John Earl Jelks (Holler if Ya Hear Me, Radio Golf), Jason, played by Will Pullen (Broadway debut), Evan, played by Lance Coadie Williams (Broadway debut), and Cynthia, played by Michelle Wilson (A Raisin in the Sun). As for the director, Kate Whorisky, she directed one show previously on Broadway, the 2010 production of The Miracle Worker starring Abigail Breslin. In addition, Whorisky is an accomplished director whose Off-Broadway credits include David Grimm’s Tales from Red Vienna at Manhattan Theatre Club, Paula Vogel’s How I Learned to Drive at Second Stage Theatre, and Inked Baby at Playwrights Horizons. A graduate of Harvard’s American Repertory Theatre Conservatory, she has served as a visiting professor at Princeton University, and an associate artist at South Coast Repertory Theatre in Orange County, California. With Lynn Nottage, Whorisky has previously collaborated on Ruined and Intimate Apparel.
Rumors, Friendship, and Trust on the Factory Floor
Sweat takes place in the Rust Belt of America, principally in the year 2000, in addition to a prologue and additional scenes from eight years after that. The story deals with a group of friends on the factory floor, but when rumors of lay-offs begin to spread, their loyalty is tested. Lynn Nottage brings her experienced eye to keenly observe the relationships between these individuals, white and black, who serve as individuals representing the greater economic issues facing America in the modern day. An ensemble play, Sweat thrives with its considerable camaraderie among the characters, as well as the humor and wit from the script and Kate Whorisky’s skillful direction. When the show premiered Off-Broadway at the Public Theater, Charles Isherwood of the New York Times declared it a Critics’ Pick, calling it “scorching,” “superb,” “disturbing,” and “surprising.” The play will have its official opening night on March 26, 2017, and is presently scheduled for an open-ended run.
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