Sweat

October 12 – November 4, 2018

Tue. 6:30pm * Wed. 1pm & 7pm * Thur. 7pm * Fri. 8pm * Sat. 2 & 8pm * Sun. 3pm

Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize!

By Lynn Nottage
Directed by Justin Emeka

Scenic Design by Christopher Ash
Costume Design by LeVonne Lindsay
Lighting Design by Aly Dockerty
Sound Design by Christopher Colucci
Fight Direction by Rick Sordelet

Reading, Pennsylvania. A valley town of fiercely proud families who worked for generations in the plants and factories of a thriving county seat. Unions rule, well-paying jobs are coveted and politics are personal. As industries disappear, the men and women of Reading are rendered powerless as they watch their income, legacy and relationships follow suit. Based on Lynn Nottage’s extensive research in Reading, Sweat shares the fear, tragedy and hopefulness of a community being forced to accept inevitable change.  

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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.”

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

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

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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.

Meet the Cast of Sweat

Walter DeShields

Walter DeShields (Chris) Walter is an Artist/Scholar born and raised in South Philadelphia. Walter works as a facilitator for a theater based sexual health intervention called BrotherSpeak with young black men in Philadelphia. He is also co-founder and Co-artistic director for Theater in the X while continuing as a stage and film actor with several recent performances including “Swallowing Dark”, “Hairy Ape”;  “Othello”; “The Meeting”; “Milk Like Sugar”, “The Bends”, “Our Lady of 121st Street”, “Titus Andronicus”, “A Lesson Before Dying”; ”Two Noble Kinsmen”, “To Be Young Gifted & Black” “Blues for an Alabama Sky”, “A Soldier’s Play”, “Night Watch”, “Raisin in the Sun”, “The Exonerated”, “Jeffrey”, and “Wonder of the World” in and around Philadelphia.In addition, in front of the camera he can be seen in over twenty short and feature films as well as several episodic TV and webseries. Walter holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theatre from Penn State.

 

Kimberly Fairbanks

Kimberly Fairbanks (Cynthia) is an actor and voiceover artist who can be seen and heard in numerous works across the performance mediums. Most recent credits include; Theatre: Internationally: I Will Speak for Myself (Edinburgh Fringe Festival); Off Broadway: I Will Speak for Myself (59E59 Theater); The Mecca Tales (Sheen Center); Television: Instinct (CBS); Madam Secretary (CBS); The Looming Tower (Hulu); Delco Proper (Comedy Central); House of Cards (Netflix); The Family (ABC); Film: Glass (M. Night Shyamalan, Writer/Director); Untouchable (Neil Burger, Director). Kimberly is a National Partners American Theatre Classical Acting Award Recipient and a Barrymore Award Nominee for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical.

Rich Hebert

Rich Hebert (Stan) has been seen in Philadelphia over the years at The Forrest (CATS 1st National), The Academy (Dad in Billy Elliot 1st national) and The Walnut St. ( Damn Yankees). He was last seen in NYC playing the role of Kelly OHara’s dad, Mr. McLaren  in the 70th Anniversary Production of Brigadoon directed by Christopher Wheeldon at City Center. Before that he played Adrian Saunders in The Last Ship with Sting at The Neil Simon. Other Broadway and National tours include Saturday Night Fever, The Life (original cast), Sunset Boulevard (original cast), Les Misérables ( Bay Area Critics Award for Valjean), and Rock and Roll The first 5000 Years. Mr. Hebert originated the role of Zoser in the world premier production of Elton John’s Aida at The Alliance Theater and played Khashoggi in the first U.S. production of Queen’s We Will Rock You at The Paris in Las Vegas. Recently Rich has appeared in the one man show The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelky, Clever Little Lies, August Osage County and The Arsonists (written by Jackie Goldfinger), at The B St Theater and Capital Stage Theater, respectively in Sacramento CA. He has guest starred in many television shows including Brotherhood, Law and Order SVU, The Sopranos, NYPD Blue, and The Young and the Restless. Rich can be seen in the upcoming film Brampton’s Own among many other films. He has appeared on two Grammy Award winning albums and is very excited to be part of Paige Price’s inaugural season with the company.

J. Hernandez

J. Hernandez (Oscar) 2018 marks J Hernandez’s fifth year working in Philadelphia, and Sweat will be his first at-bat with PTC. Other companies he’s worked for in the region include Lantern Theatre Co, InterAct Theatre Co, Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, Commonwealth Classic Theatre Co, Hedgerow Theatre, and Philadelphia Shakespeare, to name a few. In and around the US J has also worked for NC Shakes, Ash Lawn Opera, Texas Shakespeare, and the Shakespeare Theatre Co in DC. J holds holds two masters degrees in theatre from UVA and Texas State University, and spent his formative years living in the Rio Grande Valley, just minutes from the border of Mexico. Siempre resistir.

 

Suli Holum

Suli Holum (Jessie) Suli Holum’s recent credits include co-directing and performing THE WHOLEHEARTED with Stein | Holum Projects (www.steinholum.org) at Z Space (San Francisco), Center Theatre Group (LA), La Jolla Playhouse, and Abrons Arts Center (NYC), directing John Jarboe’s YOU CAN NEVER GO DOWN THE DRAIN with The Bearded Ladies at Joe’s Pub, La Mama and The Wilma, writing A FIERCE KIND OF LOVE which will be remounted at FringeArts this spring, and appearing in CABARET at The Arden, HAPPY BIRTHDAY and HOPE & GRAVITY at 1812, and COMPANY at 11th Hour. Up next is performing in THE FEW at Theatre Horizon and directing/writing a world premiere commissioned by the National Constitution Center with support from The Pew. Holum has been awarded a Drama Desk, a Barrymore Award, a TCG/Fox Fellowship, a HARP residency, and an Independence Fellowship. She was a founding member of Pig Iron Theatre Company.

Kittson O'Neill

Kittson O’Neill (Tracey) is making her PTC Debut. Recent acting work includes:  Hand to God (Boise Contemporary Theater), Informed Consent (Lantern Theater Co), Grounded (InterAct, Barrymore Nomination – Best Actress), OR (Hedgerow), Arcadia (Lantern), The Body Lautrec (Cromie & Tuomanen), and Behind the Eye (Gas & Electric Arts). Recent on camera work: CREED 2, LAW & ORDER: SVU, Outsiders, The Upside (with Bryan Cranston & Nicole Kidman) and GLASS (2019 release). She is the Artistic Director of Shakespeare in Clark Park and recent directing credits include Copenhagen (Lantern Theatre Company), Coriolanus (SCP), Uncle Vanya (Hedgerow Theater Company), the world premiere of A Knee That Can Bend (Orbiter 3 – Barrymore Nomination, Best Director). She received a 2016 commission from Lantern Theater to write a musical, Minors, with composer Robert Kaplowitz, which will receive its world premiere in June 2019. 

Matteo Scammell

Matteo Scammell (Jason) is a Barrymore Award-winning theatre-artist and musician. He is a Company Member of OBIE Award-Winning, theatre company, New Paradise Laboratories. NPL credits: 27, The Adults, O Monsters, Hello Blackout! Matteo is a multi-instrumentalist with Red 40 & The Last Groovement and an Associate of The Wilma’s Hothouse. Mr. Scammell’s work has premiered at Ice Factory (NYC), The New Ohio Theater (NYC), Ant Fest (Ars Nova, NYC), Philadelphia’s Live Arts Festival/FringeArts. Regional Credits: Wilma, Arden, Exile, Pig Iron, 11th Hour, Walnut, PTC, Theatre Horizon, EgoPo, among others. This is the third time Scammell has performed with PTC, previously as Timothy in Robert Askins’ Hand to God and Kenny in Lisa D’Amour’s Detroit.

Damien J. Wallace

Damien J. Wallace (Brucie)  is a veteran actor of theater, film and television. He holds a BFA degree with honors in theatre from Arcadia University. Some of Damien’s film credits include McCanick starring David Morse, and No Boundaries, featuring Mark McGraw, the son of ex-Phillies pitcher Tug McGraw. He’s appeared in the films Philadelphia and Malcolm X, starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, respectively. Some of Damien’s theatre credits include extensive work in the August Wilson cycle. Additionally, Damien has captured the roles of Othello (Othello), Prospero (The Tempest), and Baptista (The Taming of the Shrew). More recently he played roles for the Arden Theatre productions of Two Trains Running, The Legend of Georgia McBride, and last season’s The Bluest Eye. Damien can also be seen on several commercial spots, such as Charco Caps, I belong.org, and local spots for Mainline Health. Damien sends out his appreciation to Paige Price and Justin Emeka  for their trust in his talent and gifts and to the entire Philadelphia Theatre Company for all of their support and professionalism. Lastly, to his son Trey Nakupenda!

Brian Anthony Wilson

Brian Anthony Wilson (Evan) Previously at PTC : King Hedley II. Recent Theatre : Lay Me Down Softly (IHT/Philly Fringe), Guys And Dolls (Royal One Productions), Romeo & Juliet: A Requiem and The Diary of Anne Frank (People’s Light, PA), Thurgood (Olney Theatre Center, MD), Fences (J.A.G. Prod. in Woodstock, VT) and Titus Andronicus (Rowan University, NJ). Selected Film/TV Credits : Ocean’s 8, Glass, CREED, Soller’s Point, Crooked & Narrow, Limitless, 6 Souls, Keeping The Faith, The Postman / Siren (Freeform T.V.), Dietland (AMC), Bloodline (Netflix), Gotham (Fox), Bull (CBS), Broad City (Comedy Central), Blue Bloods (CBS), The Sopranos & The Wire (HBO). For my Family.

Illustration by Christina Mastrull