In 1949, Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Death of a Salesman raised capitalism’s crushing weight on “Everyman” Willie Loman to the level of Shakespearean tragedy. Six decades on, SWEAT by playwright Lynn Nottage, likewise honored with the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Literature,brings the collapse of the American working class to the stage in a wrenching production directed by Michael Shaw for Dezart Performs of Palms Springs, February 28 – March 8.
“For the last two decades, small towns across the United States have been devastated by the loss of union labor, decreasing wages and a changing workplace. Jobs once thought secure, literally, vanished overnight,” said Shaw, founding artistic director for Dezart Performs. “This play brings home the economic, blue-collar misery of the Rust Belt in an uncompromising fashion.”
It’s the year 2000 in Reading, Pennsylvania and a group of friends go to work at the steel mill and then decompress at the bar like they’ve been doing for over 20 years. But, unbeknownst to them, their lives are about to be uprooted. Their steel mill is making some changes and the blood, sweat and tears of generations of loyal workers don’t seem to amount to much. SWEAT dissects the insidiousness of privilege and entitlement, reminding you that there’s always someone on a lower plane to blame for your troubles, and there will always be someone who stands to profit from your loss.
“The emotion is raw and real,” notes Shaw, who has been wanting to somehow capture the ethos of the last few years, politically, on stage. “Unless we find a way to speak with each other – left to right, working-class to upper/middle-class – our country will continue to be fractured. Both sides of the political and social spectrums have work to do to heal this nation.”
During the play one of the characters, Stan, observes as much: “I watch these politicians talking bullshit and I get no sense that they even know what’s going on beyond the windshield of their cars as they speed past. But, I decided a month ago that I’m not voting, cuz no matter what lever I pull it will lead to disappointment.”
The cast for SWEAT is: Eddie Stephens (Evan), Corydon Melgoza(Jason), Cortez Johnson (Chris) Mike Truelock (Stan), Miguel Arballo(Oscar), Theresa Jewett (Tracey), Desireé Clarke (Cynthia), Melanie Blue (Jessie) and Cary Thompson (Brucie).
Dezart Performs, one of the Coachella Valley’s preeminent theatre companies, recognizes that the performing arts enrich the life and culture of a community, promote greater understanding and provoke insightful discussion. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit theatre company, its mission is to provide an artistic home for bold and cutting–edge plays, creating an atmosphere of artistic growth for actors, writers, and directors who uniquely contribute to the diverse theatrical environment in the Coachella Valley.
All performances take place at the Pearl McManus Theater (at the historic Palm Springs Woman’s Club) 314 S Cahuilla Road, Downtown Palm Springs. Tickets may be purchased online at www.dezartperforms.org, or by calling (760) 322-0179. Showtimes are Fridays at 7:30pm; Saturdays at 2pm and 7:30pm; Sundays at 2pm.After SWEAT the season concludes with the comedy/drama EVERY BRILLIANT THING written by Duncan Macmillan, with Jonny Donahoe (April 3 – 12).
12th Dezart Performs Remaining Season & Cast Listing
EVERY BRILLIANT THING
Written by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe Directed by Deborah Harmon
April 3-12, 2020
Cast / Narrator – Joel Bryant
“A heart-wrenching, hilarious play…One of the funniest plays you’ll ever see about depression—and possibly one of the funniest plays you’ll ever see, full stop!” —The Guardian
You’re six years old. Mom’s in the hospital. Dad says she’s “done something stupid.” She finds it hard to be happy. So you start to make a list of everything that’s brilliant about the world. Everything that’s worth living for. 1. Ice cream. 2. Kung Fu movies. 3. Burning things. 4. Laughing so hard you shoot milk out your nose. 5. Construction cranes. 6. Me. You leave it on her pillow. You know she’s read it because she’s corrected your spelling. Soon, the list will take on a life of its own. A play about depression and the lengths we will go to for those we love.