America Never Was America to Me In 2011, Lynn Nottage read a New York Times article that declared that Reading, Pennsylvania—a struggling city of 88,000—had edged out Flint, Michigan to become the US city with the largest percentage of its residents living in poverty (41.3%). Having been commissioned to write a play about an American revolution, Nottage chose what she called “the biggest shift in American sensibilities since the nineteensixties”: the de-industrial revolution. Between 2000 and 2010, U.S. manufacturing saw a loss of 5 million jobs, sending 14.76 million Americans into poverty. Nottage traveled to Reading and spent over two years conducting interviews with its residents. Her motto for the research was: “Replace judgment with curiosity.” At face value, Sweat tells the story of one American city’s struggles with the ramifications of a faltering US economy, declining manufacturing industry, and changing demographics. Yet, while Sweat finds its specific location in the city of Reading, it is, at its core, a portrait of the country as a whole—its cities, factories, unions, homes, schools, families. Sweat holds a mirror to the face of America as it is and as it always has been. It reflects our country’s resilience, fight, and faith, yes, but also its fears, rage, entitlement, white supremacy, systemic oppression, and thus, its decline. In highlighting these complexities, Nottage forces us to confront whether, and for whom, the so-called American Dream has ever been a reality.
Nottage’s play mines the contradictions at the root of America—a nation predicated on the notion of justice for all and at the same time a nation forged through the genocide of the continent’s native peoples and enriched through enslaved labor and systemic racism. We often hear that we are living in a time of unprecedented polarization in America; yet this polarization is woven into the very fabric from which this country is stitched together. From this premise, and in a call to unified action, Nottage starts her play with the words of prominent Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes:
O, yes, I say it plain, America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath— America will be! Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death, The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies, We, the people, must redeem The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers. The mountains and the endless plain— All, all the stretch of these great green states— And make America again!
Thursday, September 28 at 4PM Friday, September 29 at 3:30PM and 8PM Saturday, September 30 at 4PM Iseman Theater, 1156 Chapel Street
—SOPHIE SIEGEL-WARREN, PRODUCTION DRAMATURG The Studio Series productions are designed to be learning experiences that complement classroom work, providing a medium for students at Yale School of Drama to combine their individual talents and energies toward the staging of collaboratively created works. Your attendance meaningfully completes this process.
2 0 1 7– 1 8 S E A S O N
SEPTEMBER 28–30, 2017
YALE SCHOOL OF DRAMA James Bundy, Dean Victoria Nolan, Deputy Dean Chantal Rodriguez, Associate Dean Kelvin Dinkins, Jr., Assistant Dean PRESENTS
LYNN NOTTAGE Directed by JOAN MacINTOSH By
Choreographer JENNIFER ARCHIBALD
in alphabetical order
Assistant Sound Designer and Engineer JON WEST
Associate Managing Director MELISSA ROSE
Scenic Designer JESSIE CHEN Costume Designer BEATRICE VENA Lighting Designer ERIN EARLE FLEMING Sound Designer MEGUMI KATAYAMA Projection Designer CHRISTOPHER H. EVANS Production Dramaturg SOPHIE SIEGEL-WARREN Stage Manager OLIVIA PLATH
Tracey MARIÉ BOTHA Stan STEPHEN CEFALU, JR. Cynthia MOSES INGRAM Evan SEAN BOYCE JOHNSON Jessie RACHEL KENNEY Oscar JAKE RYAN LOZANO Jason HUDSON OZNOWICZ Chris CURTIS WILLIAMS Brucie JAMES UDOM
Assistant Stage Manager SAMANTHA TIRRELL
PRODUCTION STAFF Associate Production Manager AUSTIN J. BYRD Technical Director HAO-EN HU Assistant Technical Director ROSS WICK
Assistant Managing Director LAURA CORNWALL Management Assistants DANI BARLOW CARL HOLVICK LAURIE ORTEGA-MURPHY House Manager JAIME TOTTI Yale School of Drama productions are supported by the work of more than 200 faculty and staff members throughout the year.
Properties Master SAMANTHA ELSE Master Electrician JONATHAN JOLLY Crew HAO-EN HU COLE McCARTY GERARDO DÍAZ SÁNCHEZ VALERIE TU
Reading, Pennsylvania, 2000/2008 THERE WILL BE ONE 15-MINUTE INTERMISSION.
SPECIAL THANKS The Whitakers
SWEAT by Lynn Nottage. Yale School of Drama, 2017.