Great Theater in Ashland, Oregon

Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2015

I left the theater crying after “Sweat.” It wasn’t just the tragedy of the story. It was Lynn Nottage’s writing — at once brilliant, on-point, multi-layered, and funny. Her words moved me to tears. The story takes place in a factory town during what Nottage calls “America’s de-industrialization.” When the characters are shut out of their plant, they lose their jobs. We watch as their lives and relationships change and collapse.

As you sit at your desk in San Francisco or in some other major city, you might be wondering how you could possibly relate to laid-off, lower middle class factory workers. Or, why you would care about two young guys talking back to their parole officer. You do care, because these characters are complicated and endearing. Nottage uses their story to tell us about loss (Haven’t we all experienced loss?) and to remind us about our interconnectedness.

“Sweat” premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). Nottage won a Pulitzer for “Ruined,” her drama about the brutalization of women during Africa’s civil wars. I expect as much, if not more, praise and accolades for “Sweat.” The show will travel to other cities, and I hope you see it. Here’s the trailer from OSF.

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