Drew’s Department of Theatre and Dance and the Drew University Dramatic Society presented Lynn Nottage’s play Intimate Apparel October 16 – 19, 2019. Nottage is an American playwright and the first and only woman to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice, in 2009 for Ruined and in 2017 for Sweat. She is also a screenwriter and Professor of playwriting at Columbia University.
Intimate Apparel, based on the life of Nottage’s own great-grandmother, takes place in New York City in 1905. Esther, a 35-year old black seamstress, lives in a boarding house and sews intimate apparel/corsets for wealthy white patrons and black prostitutes. She is a soft spoken, hard-working woman who has managed to save a large amount of money, which she keeps hidden in her quilt. She hopes to use the money to open a beauty parlor one day. George Armstrong, a laborer from the Panama Canal, begins to send Esther letters that become progressively romantic. Since Esther is illiterate, a wealthy white woman she serves and her friend, a prostitute, read his letters and respond to them. Eventually George arrives in NYC and marries Esther, though deep down she harbors a love for a Jewish shopkeeper who sells her fabric. George cheats on Esther with her prostitute friend, and eventually steals her entire savings. At the end of the play Esther shows strength and resilience as she ends up back in the boarding house, sewing a baby’s outfit, which suggests she is pregnant. The play explores themes of race, gender, identity, tradition, and our place in the world.
In Drew’s 2019 production, Tiffany Thompson C’20 was absolutely transcendent in the role of Esther, displaying the strength, dignity, and warmth of a beautiful soul resigned to the limitations of her life. The supporting actors also gave incredible performances. These cast members include Maddie Emile C’20 who illuminated the stage as the earthy prostitute Mayme, Maliik Hall who commanded the stage as gruff and superficial George, Madi O’Shea C’20 who brought a subtle vulnerability to the frustrated and unhappy Mrs. Van Buren, Ti Leach C’21 who was pure joy as Mrs. Dickson, and Liam Ryan C’20 who brought a sensitivity and power to his performance as the kind Jewish shop keeper, Mr. Marks. The overall production, including the excellent direction by Judy Tate, lighting design by Christian Bradley, costumes by Baylee Witter, Set Design by Sophia Trotter, and Sound Design by Jay Shovan was outstanding!
All evening performances are at 7:30 p.m., except where noted with an additional 2 p.m. matinee on Saturdays.
Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for Drew students with ID (unless otherwise noted).
Reservations can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 973–408–3627.
Reservations made after 5 p.m. on the day of your selected show are not guaranteed to be processed by show time.
Most performances are held in the Dorothy Young Center for the Arts, which houses The Concert Hall and the Thomas H. Kean theatre. Others may be held at the free-standing F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre. Learn more about our arts facilities.
By Yasmin Acosta, Launch Catalyst | Arts, Communications, & Languages Community