At 35, Esther is lonely. A skilled African-American seamstress in 1905 Manhattan, she makes exquisite undergarments for clients including a sincere socialite from tony Fifth Avenue and an earnest prostitute. Strong, practical and confident Esther resists her landladyâ€™s insistence on marriage for marriageâ€™s sake while cautiously allowing an unexpected friendship, filled with longing, to grow between her and her fabric merchant, an immigrant Jew. After exchanging letters with a West Indian laborer, Esther finally accepts his invitation and marries this man she has never met. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage stitches a tale of romance, greed and ambition â€“ and also a tender story of seeking real friendship across the vast social gulf separating a seamstress and a socialite, the yearning of inter-racial as well as inter-faith love, and the persistence of spirit as Esther tries to craft a life as beautiful as one of her camisoles.
Intimate Apparel offers both a historical exploration into the black experience in America in the beginning of the 20th century, as well as a personal exploration into how societal constructs directly affect an individualâ€™s opportunities and choices.
Intimate Apparel won the 2004 New York Drama Criticsâ€™ Circle Award for Best Play, the American Theatre Critics/Steinberg New Play Award and the Outer Critics Circle Best Play Award. Ms. Nottage has received a MacArthur â€œGeniusâ€ Grant (2007), two NAACP Theatre Awards for performance and the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for a playwright in mid-career (2004). Ms. Nottage won the OBIE Award for Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Ruined in 2009. In 2010, she received the Distinguished Playwright Award.