Premiered in 2016 at the New York Public Theatre, Pulitzer prize-winning drama, Sweat, was described by the New York Times as being the "first work of an American playwright to summon with empathy and without judgement the anxiety that put Donald Trump in the White House." Market House Theatre executive director, Michael Cochran, visits Sounds Good to discuss Market House's upcoming presentation of the award-winning play.
Lynn Nottage's Sweat follows the middle class workers affected by the financial crisis of the United States from 2000 to 2008. Filled with warm humor and tremendous heart, Sweat brings audiences into the heart of the working-class who are living with the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs and are experiencing first-hand the social, racial, and economic hardships that follow. Set in Reading, Pennsylvania in a local bar, Sweat focuses on two closely knit families who have a long history with the Olstead plant and a group of friends who have spent their lives sharing drinks, secrets, and laughs while working together on the factory floor. When the machinery gets moved to Mexico overnight, the workers at the plant go on strike and immigrant replacement workers are brought in at lower wages. A full synopsis of Sweat can be found at Market House's website.
Sweat offers a relatable glimpse into the world of workers significantly affected by America's shifting economy. "It's based on real people in Reading, Pennsylvania, but [Nottage] has done such a good job of bringing out what's important," explains Market House executive director, Michael Cochran. "People who were middle class, productive, solid citizens, and suddenly they don't have that base. It's shame that eats at you, and that's what caused the opioid crisis, that's what causes so many things to happen to people who were following what they were supposed to do for all these years."
The 15 scene play begins in 2008, delving deeper into the past as the play progresses to highlight the promise and optimism the hard working characters had for their future. At the beginning of the second act, audiences are again placed in 2008. As time moves backward on stage, the pivotal moments that change the characters' lives and interpersonal relationships irreversibly are presented.
As part of Market House's multi-year effort to diversify and broaden the range of featured actors, Sweat's all-age cast will be comprised of Market House veterans, actors returning to the stage after decade-long haituses, and freshmen making their Market House debut. Cochran warns audiences of explicit language and considers the play to be PG-13. However, he encourages high school and college students to attend regardless "because it's about how you choose -- what choices you make for your future. It's about how we think of work."
Sweat will open Thursday, January 17th in Paducah and will run until January 27th. The show will run Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and on Sundays at 2:30 p.m. An additional Saturday matinee will be added on January 26th at 2:30 p.m. Tickets range in price from $17-$25 for adults and $14-$16 for students. Union workers may present their union cards at time of purchase for a discounted $15 ticket.
Cochran encourages all to attend Sweat for its relatability and unique perspective. "It's wonderful to see the story of middle class people, and the lives that we don't get to see on stage," Cochran says. "Usually it's the upper movers, the shakers, but this is about people you identify with."
To purchase tickets for Sweat, or to find out more about Market House Theatre, visit their website.