The Play to See: Sweat

     I just saw an extraordinarily gripping play. Sweat, the 2017 Pulitzer prize winner for best drama, opened at Studio 54 on March 26, 2017.  Lynn Nottage is the 1st female playwright to receive this prestigious award for the second time, she also won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for Ruined.

     Sweat, takes place in Reading, PA, and is about the decline of industrial jobs in America. The set, low keyed and packed with quiet presence, spans 8 years between 2000 - 2008 and is so relevant to today's political news.  The play is set in a bar and the town’s watering hole. We watch as blue-collar workers, exhausted, from the local factory meet up after their shift ends and swap stories about their long day. There are many layers and sub stories to this production and Sweat does have it's uncomfortable moments as well, but no one is left untouched.  We hear intimate stories about generations of families getting jobs for each other at the factory and nostalgic memories of dressing up to go downtown with family. Now, economic inequality shows another face no one ever thought they would see.

     Variety wrote, "Sweat grew out of Nottage's prescient identification of issues that, at the time, hadn't yet pushed their way to the fore of public awareness.  When Reading PA was on top of the census Poverty list in 2011, Lynn Nottage, traveled there on a regular basis to talk to people and do extensive research.  "Honestly, I felt these issues were something that had a real urgency and immediacy back when I sat down to write," Nottage remembered.  "I knew it was a conversation that needed to be had." She found the vision for her fictional story in talking to the city's steel workers. The play was in the making for 6 years.” 

     Many of us live in blue cities and unfortunately, don't get to hear these kinds of conversations. Now I know why how we got to where we are.  Thank you, Lynn.


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Gail KhanComment