“It’s a really freaking intense show, but it’s so good,” said senior Allison Campbell.
Sacred Heart University’s Theater Arts Program (TAP) premiered “Sweat,” written by Lynn Nottage, on March 17. The production will continue through March 27 in the Little Theater.
The play examines the working class and addresses issues such as classism and racism.
“I think that watching this show requires you to confront your opinions, your biases and really recognize the world around you,” said Campbell. “And that’s something that people don’t want to do, who likes that? That’s uncomfortable and it requires you to be uncomfortable, and I think that’s so important.”
“Sweat,” is set in Reading, Penn. in the year 2000. It tells the story of a group of friends as tensions run high due to rumors of layoffs at a steel mill. The entire play includes only nine cast members.
“Every character is so incredibly human that despite their flaws, despite how problematic they may be, you can’t hate them,” said Campbell. “It really makes you consider the humanity of all of the people around you, and the way that your actions and you as a person will be affecting the people around you.”
A lot went into the making of “Sweat.” Rehearsals were held multiple times a week and would range from three to eight hours. In addition to rehearsals, there were various technical and design aspects involved in the making of the play.
Throughout the entirety of the show, the play jumps back and forth from the year 2000 to the year 2008. The design team based many of their elements on the early 2000s. Costume design picked out the costumes to resemble the time era’s fashion.
After each scene, they played well known songs that may have seemed random to audience members. However, every song the audience heard was purposefully selected.
“Our sound designer Nick, he spent a lot of time going back and forth with our director John Flaherty about what kind of songs he wanted for the show,” said Production Stage Manager, junior Lauren Torres. “The transition music, the pre-show music, everything was hand selected. They took time to curate a playlist and those are the songs you see in the show, it’s all early 2000s music that everyone loves.”
A lot of time and effort went into the props design for the play.
“The shelves were given to us and the bar layout was given to us,” said sophomore Matthew Cordova. “Director John Flaherty helped give direction and I used John’s vision to put the bar together.”
Cordova worked as the props designer on “Sweat.” Props design had many elements to focus on. For instance, the characters order multiple drinks during the play. Cordova spent a lot of time mixing the drinks until he got the right color he wanted.
A scene with the characters of Tracey and Oscar, included smoking cigarettes. The cigarettes may have looked real, but they were not.
“They’re herbal cigarettes, so they’re tobacco free and nicotine free. They’re used in props a lot as cigarettes, but they look and smell real,” said Cordova.
In compliance with Sacred Heart University’s Covid-19 regulations, cast members were vaccinated and followed protocols. Audience members did not need to wear masks inside the theater.
“Sweat” will have performances from March 24 through March 26 at 8 p.m. in the Little Theater, as well as a show on March 27 at 3 p.m. at the same venue. Tickets can be purchased at the box office located in Edgerton Center.
“Everyone involved is so passionate about what they are doing, and it shows in the work they do,” said Torres. “I am very lucky to work with such talented people!”