Villanova Theatre Goes Under The Sheets With INTIMATE APPAREL

Villanova Theatre Goes Under The Sheets With INTIMATE APPAREL

Villanova Theatre is proud to present Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage's Intimate Apparel, directed by Valerie Joyce and on stage November 7-19, 2017. Winner of the 2004 New York Drama Critics Circle and Outer Critics Circle Awards, Intimate Apparel has captured the hearts of audiences and garnered considerable critical acclaim. Hailed as "unforgettably poignant" and "simply too good to miss," Intimate Apparel gives us a keyhole glimpse into the life of a remarkable African-American woman at the turn of the 20th century (The Telegraph).

This visionary play focuses on the perseverance of Esther, a black seamstress with gifted hands and grand ambitions in 1905 New York City. By day, Esther sews intimate apparel for her clients - from socialites to prostitutes - while at night she dreams of opening her own beauty parlor, where black and white women receive the same royal treatment. Determined to fashion a future as breathtaking as her garments, Esther pursues her passions while searching for intimacy in her own life. Esther's heart lies not only with her love of sewing, but with the Jewish shopkeeper from whom she purchases her fabric. Though the two share an intimate friendship, they know their affection can never be realized.

Meanwhile, Esther receives love letters from a Caribbean man working on the Panama Canal, and so must choose whether or not to let this charming yet mysterious stranger into her life. Nottage, a "rare, vital, important theatrical voice," spins a tale of desire and heartache, weaving together fragility with the perseverance of the human spirit (The New York Times).

Nottage examines the very fabric of society during a time of great transition, highlighting both tension and interconnectedness, weaving together the lives and stories of her main characters - white and black, rich and poor, male and female - to create a beautiful narrative tapestry. She also lays bare secrets and lies, carefully curating vignettes of abuse, deception, prostitution, and oppression. What's more, she strips down her characters in search of the naked truth, ultimately leaving audiences with a profound and uplifting experience.

According to director Valerie Joyce, "The points of tension between races, classes, and ethnicities in Nottage's turn-of-the-century New York will resonate with present-day audiences. However, the sheer joy of the play is its focus on crossing and questioning those boundaries, and our deep longing to be understood, held, loved, touched, and appreciated by another person.

Nottage's characters are delightful and her craft is impeccable in this story that has something for everyone. It is such a pleasure to work on this material with our second-year graduate student actors because they have developed such a close camaraderie, and those bonds are already paying big dividends in their ensemble work."

Dramaturg Andrea Rumble-Moore suggests that Intimate Apparel teaches a lesson in judgment and condemnation. "From our comfy seat in the audience, it's easy to give in to the temptation to judge Nottage's characters and their 'moral failings.' It is our job to look beyond who's in their bed and to instead examine the contents of their heart."

Rumble-Moore continues, "Desire is a universal feeling - the desire to be seen, to achieve, to connect. Nottage strips her characters down to the bare essentials, exposing their vulnerabilities and fears. How terrifying it must be to face life alone when you desperately want a partner to walk beside you; how fast you might cling to whatever life vest is thrown your way."

Ultimately, Nottage's unwavering compassion for her characters highlights their humanity, perseverance, and resilience.

The scenic design by Joshua Gallagher features a unit set subdivided into quarters that reflect each character's social and economic class. His elegant design will be illuminated by resident lighting designer Jerold Forsyth. Costume designer Janus Stefanowicz won a Barrymore Award in 2006 for her designs for Intimate Apparel at Philadelphia Theatre Company. From corsets to kimonos to quilts, Stefanowicz fills the stage with a rich and varied palette inspired by fabrics dyed from natural ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, and beans. Peter A. Hilliard returns as music director and composer, showcasing the stylings of the era's ragtime artists with the help of sound designer John Stovicek.

The cast includes acting scholar Kara Krichman (Mrs. Van Buren); second-year graduate assistants Sisi Wright (Esther) and Alexandra King (Mayme); theatre graduate students Marissa Kennedy (Mrs. Dickson), Nikitas Menotiades (Mr. Marks), and Brishen Miller (George).

Intimate Apparel runs at Villanova Theatre in Vasey Hall from November 7-19, 2017. Speaker's Night, immediately following the performance on Thursday, November 16,will feature illuminating insights from Dr. Crystal Lucky, Associate Dean of Baccalaureate Studies for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Associate Professor of English at Villanova University (see full biographical information below). Vasey Hall is located on Villanova's main campus at the intersection of Lancaster & Ithan Avenues. Performances will be held Tuesdays - Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm. Tickets run $21-$25, with discounts available for seniors, students, MA in Theatre alumni, and groups. Tickets may be purchased at the Villanova Theatre Box Office (M-S, 12-5 pm) in person, by phone: (610) 519-7474, or online at


Valerie Joyce has been performing, directing, or designing on stage at Villanova Theatre for more than 20 years and currently serves as the Chair of the Villanova University Theatre and Studio Arts Department. Villanova credits include: Little Women, Translations, The Threepenny Opera, The Light in the Piazza, Carousel, Batboy: The Musical, Annie Get Your Gun, Cabaret, and Talley's Folly. Valerie has also written a one-woman show featuring alumna Kimberly Fairbanks, titled I Will Speak for Myself, dramatizing the lost stories of African American women pre-Emancipation. I Will Speak for Myself has been produced at 59E59 in New York and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Other credits include: The Meat Opera and Up Your Ante for the New York and Philadelphia International Fringe Festivals, and Thank You for Sharing with Amaryllis Theatre Company. Valerie's work as a costume designer has been seen Off-Broadway, including the world premieres of A Persistent Memory and Six Story Building, and regionally The Real Thing (Arden Theatre Company), Moon for the Misbegotten (Venture Theatre),True West and Waiting for Godot (Lantern Theatre Company), Billy and Zelda (Opera Delaware), and The Comedy of Errors (Princeton Repertory), as well as many university productions.


Lynn Nottage is a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright (Sweat, Ruined) and a screenwriter. Her plays have been produced widely in the United States and throughout the world, earning her Obie, Drama Desk, New York Drama Critic's Circle, and Outer Circle awards, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and Tony nominations. She is the co-founder of The Production Company, Market Road Films, whose most recent projects include The Notorious Mr. Bout , First to Fall, and Remote Control. Over the years, she has developed original projects for HBO, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Showtime, This is That and Harpo. She is writer/producer on the Netflix series She's Gotta Have It. Nottage is the recipient of a MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship, Steinberg "Mimi" Distinguished Playwright Award, PEN/Laura Pels Master Playwright Award, Merit and Literature Award from The Academy of Arts and Letters, Columbia University Provost Grant, Doris Duke Artist Award, The Joyce Foundation Commission Project & Grant, Madge Evans-Sidney Kingsley Award, Nelson A. Rockefeller Award for Creativity, The Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award, the inaugural Horton Foote Prize, Helen Hayes Award, the Lee Reynolds Award, and the Jewish World Watch iWitness Award. Her other honors include the National Black Theatre Fest's August Wilson Playwriting Award, a Guggenheim Grant, Lucille Lortel Fellowship and Visiting Research Fellowship at Princeton University. She is a graduate oF Brown University and the Yale School of Drama. She is also an Associate Professor in the Theatre Department at Columbia School of the Arts.


Dr. Crystal J. Lucky is Associate Dean of Baccalaureate Studies for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Associate Professor of English at Villanova University, where she has taught since 1996. She has also served as the director of the University's Africana Studies Program from 2005-2015. She teaches courses in African-American literature that focus on the works of the nineteenth century, the novels of the early twentieth century-specifically, the Harlem Renaissance, the 1930s, and the 1940s-twentieth-century short story, twentieth-century drama, and the work of novelist Toni Morrison and playwright August Wilson. Before joining the faculty at Villanova University, she held teaching appointments at the University of Maryland's European Division in Germany, Antelope Valley College in Lancaster, CA, and Washington College in Chestertown, MD. Dr. Lucky has published articles on African American women writers of the nineteenth and twentieth century and most recently published a critical edition of the autobiography of the Rev. Charlotte Riley, a nineteenth-century black preaching woman born into South Carolina slavery. A Mysterious Life and Calling: From Slavery to Ministry in South Carolina, was published by the University of Wisconsin Press (2016) ( and was picked by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) as one of only thirteen books chosen as an annual 'Okra Pick' ( The book was also nominated for the 2016 Albert C. Outler prize given by the American Society of Church History. She is currently working on a new book project, titled On the Threshing Floor: The Image of African American Women's Piety in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century, which traces the image of the pious black woman, whom she defines as dedicated to enacting and promoting the tenets of Protestant Christianity, as both an historical and a cultural figure from her appearance in autobiographical and expository writing and visual images of the nineteenth century through her reinvention in American literary and popular cultural forms of the early- to mid- twentieth century. Dr. Lucky works as a Diversity Consultant with teachers and administrators in both public and private secondary schools on curriculum enhancement and multi-cultural community building. Finally, she is the Pastor of Sword of the Spirit Church in Lansdowne, PA. She holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania (1999), an M.A. in African American Studies from Yale University (1989), a B.A. in English and Communications from the University of Pennsylvania (1985).


Villanova Theatre is a community of artist-scholars committed to transforming hearts and minds through the visionary production of classical, modern, and contemporary dramatic literature. Our work is fueled by the imaginative striving common to Villanova's accomplished faculty, versatile staff, and energetic graduate students. Together, we are devoted to creating a vibrant theatre enriched by and overflowing with the ideas explored in our classrooms. In all of our endeavors, we aim to share the dynamic experience of collaborative learning with our audiences in order to engage the intellect and stir the soul. As a facet of Villanova University, Villanova Theatre serves the campus community as well as thousands of theatre-goers from the Main Line and the Greater Philadelphia area.


Since 1842, Villanova University's Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges - the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Charles Widger School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.

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