Sierra Rep is presenting two-time Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage’s “Intimate Apparel.” The production will be helmed by the company’s Producing Artistic Director Scott Viets. This winner of the 2004 Steinberg New Play Award, New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, and Outer Critics Circle Award plays for a limited engagement at the East Sonora Theatre through Oct. 28.
“As a director, there is nothing more thrilling for me than reading a play for the first time and getting goosebumps, tears, or even gasping out loud,” says Viets. “Exquisitely written with characters you can’t help but invest in, “Intimate Apparel” skillfully balances beauty and poetry while at the same time being agonizingly real. I love a great play that continues to have impact worthy of discussion well after the curtain has come down and I can’t wait to have SRT audiences discover it.”
Esther, a proud and shy African-American seamstress, creates exquisite lingerie for both Fifth Avenue boudoirs and tenderloin bordellos. She lives in a New York City boardinghouse in the early 1900s. One by one, the other denizens of a boarding house marry and move away, but Esther remains, lonely and longing for a husband and a future. Her plan is to find the right man and use the money she's saved over the years to open a beauty parlor where black women will be treated as royally as the white women she sews for. The role of Esther was originated by Academy Award Winner Viola Davis.
The cast of “Intimate Apparel” features: Jasmine Rush as Esther; Nora Cole as Mrs. Dickson; Landon Woodson as George; Emily Gatesman as Mrs. Van Buren; Jerry Lee as Mr. Marks; and Brittney Caldwell as Mayme.
“The play takes place in six bedrooms throughout New York City in 1905,” says Lee. “That was the first thing I noticed when I read the play, every scene had a bed in it. I felt really smart when later on I read somewhere that the playwright wanted to explore how having a bed in every scene would affect how the characters related to each other. Usually when you see a play or movie that takes place during this time period, it’s about people who are inundated with the turbulence of living in Manhattan during the Industrial Revolution. The hurly-burly of this play lies in the intimacy of our most private needs and thoughts. I think it’s a play about survival. Emotional survival.”
Nottage is acclaimed as one of the most poetic and honored of contemporary American playwrights, and “Intimate Apparel” – the winner of the 2004 New York Drama Circle and Outer Critic Circle awards – is widely considered to be her most moving and thoughtful play. Her plays have been produced widely in the United States and throughout the world. They include “Sweat” (Pulitzer Prize), “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark,” and “Ruined” (Pulitzer Prize).
Tickets for “Intimate Apparel” can be purchased online at www.SierraRep.org, or by phone at 532-3120, or by visiting the East Sonora Theatre Box Office from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at 13891 Mono Way in Sonora. Performances continue through Oct. 28. Performance times are at 2 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays and 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Ticket prices range from $32 to $47. Discounts for seniors, children, and students (18 and over with student ID) are available for all performances. Special discounts for groups of 20 or more are also available.