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Ensemble Theatre Opens 2022-23 With SWEAT

This compelling story takes us to the forgotten heart of America, where old friends come together at their favorite bar as they struggle to survive a fraying economy.

Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati opens its 37th year with the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Sweat by MacArthur genius and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage. Shining a powerful light on America's working class, Nottage infuses this searing script with her trademark mix of compassion, humor, and suspense. It's explosive drama, made in America. Playing September 17-October 9, 2022. Directed by Darnell Pierre Benjamin.

This compelling story takes us to the forgotten heart of America, where old friends come together at their favorite bar as they struggle to survive a fraying economy. For decades, they've shared secrets and laughs on the factory floor, but now layoffs pit them against one another as inequities of race and class fan the flames. Based on the playwright's extensive research and interviews with real residents of Reading, Pennsylvania, Sweat is a topical reflection of the present and poignant outcome of America's economic decline.

"I love this play without exception, and that's rare," says Producing Artistic Director D. Lynn Meyers. "I picked up the script without any background simply because I thought it was a great title and because Lynn Nottage's play Intimate Apparel is a story that lives in my heart. Sweat is such honest writing, and I just fell into it. It's a play about the realization of what is essential in our lives and that need is indeed a deep and real thing. There's not a shred of theatricality or dishonestly in this piece."


About the Cast

Burgess Byrd (Cynthia) was last seen at Ensemble Theatre in Skeleton Crew as Faye and the 2019 production of The Frog Princess as the Tsar, as well as the virtual reading of 20th Century Blues as Mac. She also appeared in ETC's world premiere of Around the World in 80 Days in the 1999-2000 Season, during which time she was an Acting Intern. Additional credits include Gloria: A Life at the Human Race Theatre Company.


Mierka Girten (Tracey) makes her Ensemble Theatre debut with this production. For the last 20+ years, she has worked in Chicago as an actress, casting director, and producer. Some of her credits include Sweat, The Goodman Theatre; Into the Woods, Porchlight Theatre; The Walls, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble; her one woman show With or Without Wings, Baum House; and Gloria, McCarter Theatre Center with Mary McDonald. Mierka is a graduate of Wright State University and Cincinnati's School for Creative and Performing Art.

Denise Dal Vera (Jessie) makes her Ensemble Theatre debut with this production. Some of her stage credits include Belinda in Noises Off at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina and Hallie in Sunrise Coven at Know Theatre of Cincinnati. Her TV and film credits include Dark Waters, CBS's Tell Me A Story, Who Is Amos Otis, and the upcoming film Just For Show. Denise is a graduate of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She served as AFTRA Tri-State President and SAG-AFTRA National board member, and is currently a delegate to The Cincinnati Labor Council AFL-CIO.


Jay Wade (Chris) was last seen at Ensemble Theatre in Pipeline. He also appeared as Omari in Alabama Shakespeare Festival's production of Pipeline. He is from St. Louis, MO, and recently earned his BFA in Acting from Southeast Missouri State University.


Charlie Cromer (Jason) makes his Ensemble Theatre debut with this production. Some of his credits include
A Christmas Carol, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park; Of Mice and Men, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company; The Irish Curse, Short North Stage; MilkMilkLemonade at the Impact Theatre Berkeley; The Bomb-itty of Errors and Kitty Kitty Kitty, UGA; and Pesach, 7 Stages Atlanta. He can also be in seen in the TV movie Memphis Belle: Her Final Mission. Charlie received his BA at Kenyon College and his MFA from the University of Georgia.


Allen R. Middleton (Stan) makes his Ensemble Theatre debut with this production. His theatre credits include Gross Indecency: The Three of Oscar Wilde, TheatreWorks Hartford; Proof, The Carnegie; The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Falcon Theatre; Haunted: The Great Lakes Ghost Project, Know Theatre; and My Fair Lady, West Virginia Public Theater. His film and TV credits include Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile; Curvature; FTL Newsfeed; Round and Round; and Just in Time. Allen is a graduate of the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama.


Ollie Corchado (Oscar) makes his Ensemble Theatre debut with this production. His New York credits include King Lear, New York Classical Theatre; A Spider's Web, Wet Paint New Play Festival; Counting Pedestals, Metropolitan Playhouse; and Not About Nightingales, Empirical Stage. His regional credits include Romeo and Juliet, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival; Indian Head, Luna-Stage/">Luna Stage; and Peter and the Starcatcher, Milwaukee Rep. & Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. His TV and film credits include Bull, Blue Bloods, Bound, and Stalked: Someone's Watching.


"ranney" (Brucie) makes his Ensemble Theatre debut with this production. His credits include Art, Shakespeare & Company; Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Fences, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company; Two Trains Running and Radio Golf, American Stage Company; Seven Guitars, Nevada Conservatory Theatre; and The Piano Lesson, Center Theatre Company. Some of his one-man show credits include And the Horse You Rode in On at the Projects Arts Centre, Dublin, Ireland, and Cufflinks and Jolly Ranchers for Dummies at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.


Derek J. Snow (Evan) has been an actor, writer, director, and producer in Cincinnati for almost four decades. A graduate of SCPA, Derek continued his education in NYC before returning after graduation to teach. As a playwright, his work has been produced in Atlanta, New Jersey, London, India, and Sydney, Australia. His short play Wind Kill Factor was read for a sold-out audience at Ensemble Theatre in 2019 as part of their Studio Series. Derek founded his nonprofit, Missing Front Plate Productions, in 2020 to address the lack of BIPOC work in theaters nationwide.


Production team: Brian c. Mehring (Resident Scenic and Lighting Designer), Jerrilyn Lanier-Duckworth (Costume Designer), Matt Callahan (Sound Designer), Gina Cerimele-Mechley (Fight Director), Shannon Rae Lutz (Properties Curator & Design Assistant), and Jack Murphy (Technical Director). Production Stage Manager is Margot Whitney. Assistant Stage Manager is Lexi Muller.

Performances Tuesday-Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday & Saturday at 8:00 pm; Saturday & Sunday at 2:00 pm. Performances vary. A complete calendar of performances is available at www.ensemblecincinnati.org.

Tickets start at $35 for adults; student tickets are $28; and children are $24. Half-Price Rush Tickets: All remaining tickets for the current day's performance(s) are available two hours prior to each show time for half-price (discount only applies to adult tickets) when purchasing by phone or in person. $15 Student Rush Tickets: Students may purchase up to two $15 student rush tickets two hours prior to show time with valid student I.D. Available in person only.


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