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Intimate Apparel at Whittier College


3/10/2022 - 3/12/2022


Whittier College


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Lynn Nottage

Whittier College

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 landlady’s insistence on marriage for marriage’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 – 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 individual’s opportunities and choices.

Intimate Apparel won the 2004 New York Drama Critics’ 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 “Genius” 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.

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