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Friday, February 23, 2024

Sweat: Powerful Realism, Humor and Heart on the Sprinkle Theatre Stage

Peacemaker staff reports / April 1, 2022

L-R: Colin Smith (Jason), Andre Otabor (Chris), Willa Bost (Cynthia), Libby Otos( Tracey). Photo by Martin Kane

The UNC Greensboro School of Theatre is proud to present Sweat, a play by Lynn Nottage with in-person performances April 1-2 at 7:30 p.m., April 3 at 2 p.m., and April 6-9 at 7:30 pm.

Sweat dives into the lives of factory workers in Reading, Pennsylvania, as they grapple with issues related to economic insecurity, relationships, workers’ rights and race. Sweat and its characters are based on Nottage’s personal research and interviews conducted in Reading during a time in American history when many longstanding factory jobs were outsourced to other countries because of the North American Free Trade Agreement. According to Director, Mya Brown, “Sweat tells the story of hard-working, loyal, strong individuals who are members of a rich and deep history; all they want is their share of the American Dream that was promised to them.”

The play was originally co-commissioned by both the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and D.C.’s Arena stage in 2015. Sweat premiered Off-Broadway in the fall of 2016 at the Public Theater and then moved to Broadway in 2017. Due to its popular success, Sweat won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2017. Additional honors include the 2017 Obie Award for playwriting, along with three 2017 Tony Award nominations including Best Play.

Director Brown states that she “saw a production of Sweat at the Arena stage in Washington D.C. (2015) before it went to Broadway; I knew then it was going to change the landscape of American realism. Lynn Nottage’s work in Sweat is the epitome of what August Wilson asserts in his speech, The Ground on Which I Stand, ‘We can answer the high standards of world-class art.’ I am honored to direct this piece at UNCG and hopefully inspire the audience to extend compassion and grace to their fellow human beings. During this time of war, economic strife, a health pandemic and social unrest, it is important that artists be the change they want to see in the world; this production is our effort to inspire change.”

When asked what excites her about the show, Yuliya Donovan (cast as Jessie) stated “Lynn Nottage has written a truly important story that, although is very specific to a time, place, and population, rings true across time and location.”

MFA acting student Willa Bost (cast as Cynthia) said, “I am thrilled that my Master Thesis Production is a Pulitzer Prize-winning drama both written and directed by BIPOC females. This play could be produced at any time and the social and political questions that it raises would still be relevant. It was once said that people go to the theater to exercise their empathetic muscles. If that is the case, they are sure to get a workout when coming to see Sweat!”


Tickets are available online at www.uncgtheatre.com, by phone at (336) 334-4392, or in-person at the UNCG Theatre Box Office located at 406 Tate Street., Greensboro. The hours for operation at the UNCG Theatre Box Office are Monday-Friday 1 to 5 p.m.




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