Rust Belt Drama 'Sweat' Sets Broadway Move

Sweat - Public Theatre - Publicity- H 2016
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

The topical new play by Pulitzer winner Lynn Nottage, about Pennsylvania steel workers battling the tough economic tide of globalization, will open at Studio 54 in spring.

The bleak reality of Rust Belt communities, as American manufacturing plants shutter and blue-collar jobs migrate to countries with cheaper labor costs, will be depicted on Broadway later this season when Lynn Nottage's Sweat moves uptown.

Producers Stuart Thompson and Louise Gund on Monday announced that the production wrapping its extended New York premiere run at the Public Theater on Dec. 18 will reopen at Studio 54 on March 26, following previews from March 4.

Directed by Kate Whoriskey, Sweat was co-commissioned and previously produced by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and D.C.'s Arena Stage. It won the 2016 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for an English-language work by a woman playwright,

Set between 2000 and 2008 around a bar in Berks County, Pa., the play explores the collision of class, race, community and friendship as it chronicles upheavals in the lives of a tight-knit group of workers at a steel tubing plant when their jobs are threatened and the union proves powerless to stop inevitable layoffs.

The ensemble at the Public includes Carlo Alban, James Colby, Khris Davis, Johanna Day, John Earl Jelks, Will Pullen, Miriam Shor, Lance Coadie Williams and Michelle Wilson, all of whom are expected to remain with the company when it transfers.

The production will mark the Broadway debut for Nottage, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2009 for Ruined, her play about the plight of women in the civil war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. The playwright is a MacArthur "Genius" Grant recipient, whose work also includes Intimate Apparel and By the Way, Meet Vera Stark.

Sweat is the latest production to move to Broadway from the Public Theater following recent Tony-winning musicals Hamilton and Fun Home, along with last season's drama, Eclipsed.

Nottage's play joins a field of new American drama competing for 2017 Tony honors that includes J.T. Rogers' Oslo, Paula Vogel's Indecent and Joshua Harmon's Significant Other, all of which also are transferring after well-received off-Broadway runs, as well as A Doll's House, Part 2, by Lucas Hnath, which will premiere on Broadway.