MHT presents Sweat - Lynn Nottage's 2017 Pulitzer prize winning drama
Filled with warm humor and tremendous heart, Sweat brings us into the heart of the working-class who are living with the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs in America 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. Long-standing friendships are torn apart, sparking violence that escalates until the riveting end of the play where unintended consequences happen. With down-to-earth characters and relatable issues, Sweat goes back and forth in time from the start of the crisis in year 2000 to the plant’s closing in 2008, exploring the heartbreaking realization that a life’s worth of work may not mean as much as it should.
Dates and Tickets:
Sweat opens Thursday, January 17th and runs through Sunday, January 27th.
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening performances begin at 7:30 PM. Sunday matinees begin at 2:30 PM. An additional matinee will be on Saturday, January 26th at 2:30 PM.
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 to receive a discounted $15 ticket.
The play focuses on two closely knit working class families who have a long history with the plant in Reading, PA. Cynthia (played by newcomer Paris Jones) and her son Chris (played by MHT veteran actor Jalen Harris) both work at the factory. Tracey (played by MHT veteran Stacy Walker) and her son Jason (played by newcomer Jason Hamilton) both work at the factory as well. The women have worked on the line at the plant for over 20 years and their sons who also work on the line are best friends. A supervisor job opens at the plant and line workers are invited to apply. Both Cynthia and Tracey apply. It is not long after that when the owners start to ask for concessions from the line workers it is Cynthia who has been promoted has to be the one to tell her coworkers of this news. Tracey begins to tell others that Cynthia only got the job because she is African American. As equipment moves out of the factory in the middle of the night to Mexico and the workers are locked out it is Cynthia, now on the other side as management, who has to lock out her own son and her best friends. Cynthia is also dealing with her own crisis as her estranged husband Brucie (played by newcomer K.L. Mason), slides between drug and alcohol addiction after being on strike for over 93 weeks at another plants closing. Brucie tries to tell his wife and son to stand strong: “We didn’t want to take their new contract. Be a slave. That’s what they wanted. We offered to take a 50% pay cut, they wouldn’t budge, they want us to give up our retirement. What’s the point? Full circle, a lifetime and be in the same place I was when I was 18. What is that?” Sweat brings us into the heart of the working-class who are living with the loss of good paying manufacturing jobs in America.
As the workers at Cynthia’s plant go on strike and immigrant replacement workers are brought in at lower wages, long standing friendships between Cynthia, Tracey and Jessie are torn apart dragging Jason and Chris into the violence as it escalates until the riveting end of the play where unintended consequences happen.
Most of the scenes take place in or around the local bar across from the plant. Playing the bartender, Stan is MHT veteran Brian Johnson. Oscar, played by newcomer Jorge Machaen, is the latino minimum wage worker at the bar. Oscar was born and raised in Reading, but is still considered an outsider. Oscar is brought into the conflict when he becomes a replacement worker at the plant trying to make better wages than the bar job. Jessie (played by MHT veteran Marsha Cash) is another line worker who is best friends with Cynthia and Tracey. Her character closes the bar every night as she tries to drink away the pain of her husband running off with a younger woman. Evan a parole officer is played by newcomer Steven Holmes who deals with the fallout of Jason and Chris as the violence sends them both into the legal system.
From the Director:
“The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article showing how rural communities and small towns that have relied on manufacturing are still in crisis even after the recession has ended. With GM’s November announcement of plant closings, the play Sweat is as timely as ever. As soon as I read this play, I knew we had to do it. It’s a snapshot of what is happening across the country: good-paying jobs, benefits, and pensions are being challenged, leaving behind devastation from substance abuse, anger, and the collapse of the American working class,” says director Michael Cochran.
**Sweat contains strong language and adult content. Not suitable for children.**