October 12 – November 4, 2018

Tu. 7pm – W. 1/7pm – Th. 8pm – F. 8pm – Sat. 2/8pm – Sun. 3pm

Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize!

By Lynn Nottage
Directed by Justin Emeka

Run Time: 2 hrs 25 mins with one intermission
Recommended for ages 14+

Single Tickets on sale June 1, 2018

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In one of the poorest cities in America – Reading, Pennsylvania – a group of down-and-out factory workers struggles to keep their present lives in balance, ignorant of the financial devastation looming in their near futures. Set in 2008, the powerful crux of this new play is knowing the fate of the characters long before it’s even in their sights. Based on Nottage’s extensive research and interviews with real residents of Reading, Sweat is a topical reflection of the present and poignant outcome of America’s economic decline.

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PTC will open the  2018-2019 season with the Philadelphia Premiere of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Sweat. Sweat will run October 12 to November 4, 2018. Filled with warm humor and tremendous heart, Sweat tells the story of a group of friends who have spent their lives sharing drinks, secrets, and laughs while working together on a factory floor in Reading, PA. However, when layoffs and picket lines begin to chip away at their trust, the friends find themselves pitted against each other in a heart-wrenching fight to stay afloat. The play was nominated for the 2017 Drama Desk Award-Outstanding Play and received three 2017 Tony Award nominations for Best Play and Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play for both Johanna Day and Michelle Wilson.

Lynn Nottage began working on the play in 2011 by interviewing residents of Reading, which at the time was, according to the United States Census Bureau, officially one of the poorest cities in America, with a poverty rate of over 40%. Nottage was particularly influenced by a New York Times article reporting on the city specifically, and by the Occupy Wall Street movement more generally. She particularly examined the loss of heavy industry and a changing ethnic composition of the region.

“One of the hardest jobs anyone can have is the job of being poor,” said Nottage. “To survive from day to day is an epic struggle to find a way to feed yourself, clothe yourself, put a roof over your head. It is the most Herculean path when you have nothing.”

Price added, “I thought it was important for us to bring this Pennsylvania story to life. At PTC’s See and Be Scene showcase, the audience expressed so much enthusiasm for this show. Sweat tells the story of people not far from here, and yet the themes in it certainly are relatable to people who live in Philadelphia. It’s a socially relevant work, written by a leading black American female playwright. It pulls no punches, revealing complex issues and deep passions in a story that is playing out with slight variations, in communities all over America.”

Awards & Accolades

2017 Drama Desk Award Nominee

Outstanding Play and Outstanding Fight Choreography

2017 Tony Award Nominee

Best Play
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
– Johanna Day
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play – Michelle Wilson

2017 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Drama

Meet the Playwright & Director

Playwright Lynn Nottage

Lynn Nottage is a playwright and screenwriter and the first woman in history to win two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama. Her plays have been produced widely in the United States and throughout the world. Sweat (Pulitzer Prize, Obie Award, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, Tony Nomination, Drama Desk Nomination) moved to Broadway after a sold out run at The Public Theater.  It premiered and was commissioned by Oregon Shakespeare Festival American Revolutions History Cycle/Arena Stage. Her other plays include Mlima’s Tale (upcoming, Public Theater), By The Way, Meet Vera Stark (Lilly Award, Drama Desk Nomination), Ruined (Pulitzer Prize, OBIE, Lucille Lortel, New York Drama Critics’ Circle, Audelco, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award), Intimate Apparel (American Theatre Critics and New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards for Best Play), Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine (OBIE Award), Crumbs from the Table of Joy,  Las Meninas, Mud, River, Stone, Por’knockers and POOF!. In addition, she is working with composer Ricky Ian Gordon on adapting her play Intimate Apparel into an opera (commissioned by The Met/LCT).  She is also developing This is Reading, a performance installation based on two years of interviews which opened at the Franklin Street, Reading Railroad Station in Reading, PA in July 2017.  She is currently an artist-in-residence at the Park Avenue Armory. She is the co-founder of the production company, Market Road Films, whose most recent projects include The Notorious Mr. Bout directed by Tony Gerber and Maxim Pozdorovkin (Premiere/Sundance 2014), First to Fall directed by Rachel Beth Anderson (Premiere/ IDFA, 2013) and Remote Control (Premiere/Busan 2013- New Currents Award) Over the years, she has developed original projects for HBO, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Showtime, This is That and Harpo. She is writer/producer on the Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It directed by Spike Lee. Nottage is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship, Steinberg “Mimi” Distinguished Playwright Award, PEN/Laura Pels Master Playwright Award, Merit and Literature Award from The Academy of Arts and Letters, Columbia University Provost Grant, Doris Duke Artist Award, The Joyce Foundation Commission Project & Grant, Madge Evans-Sidney Kingsley Award, Nelson A. Rockefeller Award for Creativity, The Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award, the inaugural Horton Foote Prize, Helen Hayes Award, the Lee Reynolds Award, and the Jewish World Watch iWitness Award. Her other honors include the National Black Theatre Fest’s August Wilson Playwriting Award, a Guggenheim Grant, Lucille Lortel Fellowship and Visiting Research Fellowship at Princeton University. She is a graduate of Brown University and the Yale School of Drama.  She is also an Associate Professor in the Theatre Department at Columbia School of the Arts. Nottage is a board member for BRIC Arts Media Bklyn, Donor Direct Action, Dramatist Play Service, Second Stage and the Dramatists Guild.  She recently completed a three-year term as an Artist Trustee on the Board of the Sundance Institute.  She is member of the The Dramatists Guild and WGAE.

Director Justin Emeka

Justin Emeka is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and uses artistic and cultural innovation to create high quality, thoughtful, entertaining theatre–specializing in new approaches to “classic” texts, as well as imaginative staging of popular and emerging playwrights.  Off-Broadway credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet at Classical Theatre of Harlem; Regional theatre productions include: Stick Fly at Intiman Theatre in Seattle; Detroit ’67 at Karamu House in Cleveland; A Raisin in the Sun at the Oberlin Summer Theatre Festival. At Oberlin College he directed Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman; Dominique Morrisseau’s Follow Me To Nellie’s; Shakespeare’s Macbeth; Alice Childress’s Wedding Band; and Gabriel Emeka’s The Compromise. At the University of Washington Ethnic Cultural Theatre he directed Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie; Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman; and Aishah Rahman’s Unfinished Women Cry in No Man’s Land While a Bird Dies in a Gilded Cage.  At Yale Repertory Theater he served as the movement coordinator and played the role of ‘Edgar’ in a unique African-American production of King Lear starring Avery Brooks. He helped found the Oberlin Summer Theater Festival where he directed and/or performed in A Raisin in the Sun, Crumbs from the Table of Joy, and The Glass Menagerie. He is also a writer and has received awards in playwriting from the Seattle Arts Commission, and screenwriting from the Washington State Film Commission. He recently published an essay “Seeing Shakespeare through Brown Eyes” in the book Black Acting Methods: Critical Approaches. Mr. Emeka is a Drama League Fellow and a tenured professor of Theatre (Directing & Acting) and Africana Studies at Oberlin College.

Illustration by Christina Mastrull