By Lynn Nottage
Directed by: Amy Fox
November 6 at 7:00pm
November 7 at 7:30pm
January 27, 28, February 3, 4, 10, 11 at 8:00pm
January 29, February 5 at 3:00pm
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 the factory floor. But 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. Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize.
Character Breakdown and Sides
As Studio Playhouse works to represent more diverse voices on our stage, we are excited to present this piece in which race plays a pivotal role in key moments throughout the play. Because of this, the following racial requirements must be met to fulfill the vision of the playwright.
Cynthia is a middle-aged African American woman; she’s Chris’s mother and Brucie’s wife. In 2000, Cynthia and her best friends Tracey and Jessie have worked at the Steel Plant in Reading, Pennsylvania, for over 20 years. These ladies spend most of their down time together at a local bar. Cynthia has been estranged from her husband, Brucie, since he got locked out of his textile mill job and became addicted to drugs. A combination of events will challenge her friendships.
Tracey is a middle-aged white woman; she’s Jason’s mother. Tracey and her best friends, Cynthia and Jessie, have worked at the Steel plant in Reading, Pennsylvania, for over 20 years. They spend most of their downtime in the local bar socializing with one another and with Stan, the bartender (who often flirts with Tracey and playfully references their past sexual encounter). Tracey uses humor as a means of escape and loves to drink, gossip, and dance. She’s a hardworking, traditional woman. Tracey is bitter about Reading’s growing Latinx immigrant population, (whom she views as outsiders coming to steal away jobs). Her racist beliefs become even more pronounced when Cynthia gets a promotion
Stan is a white man of German descent in his fifties; he’s the bartender at the bar in Reading. Stan became the bartender after a debilitating injury to his leg at the Steel mill, where he worked for 28 years. Stan serves as a beloved friend, confidant, and wise sage for his regular customers. Stan is perhaps the most cynical of the play’s characters: he distrusts white-collar management and career politicians. But unlike most of the play’s other characters, who hold staunch, polarized beliefs about personal and social issues, Stan seeks to understand and empathize with everyone who sits across the bar from him and confides in him about their problems.
Jessie is an Italian American woman in her forties; she’s a close friend and coworker of Tracey and Cynthia. Having gone to work at the mill straight out of high school and given up her dreams of traveling the world to keep working and get married, Jessie is now divorced and dissatisfied with her life. As a result, she’s seemingly developed a problem with alcohol abuse. Jessie has a dark side when she’s drunk.
Chris is a young African American man; he’s Cynthia and Brucie’s son and Jason’s best friend. Chris has followed in his parents’ footsteps and gone to work at the Steel plant straight out of high school. But he has bigger aspirations. Chris and Jason play an integral part in one of the major themes of the play.
Jason is a young white man; he’s Tracey’s son and Chris’s best friend. Jason is an irreverent troublemaker who works alongside Chris at the Steel Tubing plant. Unlike Chris, he doesn’t have big dreams beyond getting a motorcycle. Chris and Jason play an integral part in one of the major themes of the play.
Brucie is an African American man in his forties; he’s Chris’s father and Cynthia’s estranged husband. In 2000, nearly two years after being locked out from the textile mill where he works, Brucie has become addicted to drugs and has resorted to stealing from Cynthia, which leads her to kick him out. Brucie feels hopeless and purposeless as he attends rehab and accepts union handouts, all the while facing racism from white union members. His relationship with his son is strained. He supports Chris’ aspirations and encourages him to get out of the town and the factory life.
Evan is an African American man; he is Chris and Jason’s parole officer in 2008. Evan encourages Chris and Jason to be straightforward with him and to open up about their struggles reintegrating into society and coping with guilt as ex-convicts. However, he also has no patience for nonsense. Evan is the catalyst for Sweat’s tentative resolution.
Oscar is a young Colombian American man; he’s the busboy at the bar in Reading. Oscar is viewed as an outsider and ignored by the white customers who frequent the bar. Though Oscar is a “quiet but alert presence” in the background of nearly all the play’s dialogue and action, he’s usually only acknowledged by Stan, the bartender. However, as economic downturn hits Reading and tensions rise, people become increasingly hostile toward him.