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Photos: First Look at Tramell Tillman, Kimberly Scott, Jack Willis & More in Oregon Shakespeare Festival's SWEAT

Ashland, Ore.-The Oregon Shakespeare Festival will open Lynn Nottage's Sweat, the final production of the Festival's 2015 playbill, on August 2 in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. Preview performances are July 29, July 31 and August 1.

Directed by Kate Whoriskey, Sweat explores America's industrial decline at the turn of the millennium with a look inside the town of Reading, Pennsylvania, where a group of close friends shares everything: drinks, secrets and laughs. But when rumors of layoffs shake up the factory where they work, the fragile bonds of their community begin to splinter and a horrific crime sends shock waves across two generations.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Nottage, one of Festival's most produced living playwrights (Crumbs from the Table of Joy, Ruined, Intimate Apparel), returns to the OSF playbill to examine the impact of the "de-industrial revolution" of the 1990s. Sweat, a co-commission with Arena Stage through OSF's American Revolutions program, emerged from extensive conversations Nottage and Whoriskey had with residents of Reading, which was named the nation's poorest city in 2012.

"When the Oregon Shakespeare Festival first came around, they said, 'Figure out what are the pivotal moments you want to address.' They wanted us to write big plays about American history," Nottage said in an interview with American Theatre magazine. "The revolution I'm looking at is the 'de-industrial' revolution, which is one of the great revolutions in American history, and I was thinking: 'By the time I write this play it will be history.' I think it's one of the more pivotal moments; I do think it's going to be a moment that will impact the next 100 years."

Coinciding with the run of Sweat will be the inaugural year of Living Ideas: Art and Community Dialogue Series, a new humanities program supported in part by a grant from Oregon Humanities that seeks to forge connections between individuals and communities through collaborative programming driven by the works on the Festival's stages. In the summer and fall of 2015, Living Ideas will present a series of innovative and thought-provoking dialogues and debates on topics inspired by Sweat, in partnership with the Jackson County Library System. More information and a schedule of events are available in the Living Ideas press release.

The cast of Sweat features Terri McMahon as Tracey, Stephen Michael Spencer as Jason, Kimberly Scott as Cynthia, Tramell Tillman as Chris, Kevin Kenerly as Brucie, Tyrone Wilson as Evan, Jack Willis as Stan, K. T. Vogt as Jessie and Carlo Albán as Oscar.

Scenic design is by John Lee Beatty, costumes by Jennifer Moeller, lighting by Peter Kaczorowski, video and projections by Jeff Sugg and sound by Michael Bodeen and Rob Milburn. Julie Felise Dubiner is dramaturg, David Carey is voice and text director, U. Jonathan Toppo is fight director and Jill Rendall is stage manager.

Sweat's Lead Sponsor is the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which is supporting this play and a future commission by Nottage through its Theatre Commissioning and Production Initiative. OSF also gratefully acknowledges the support of Production Sponsor the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and the following Production Partners: anonymous Applegate donors, Ed McCurtain, Karen Easterbrook and Alex Sutton, the Hobbes Family, the Teel Family Foundation, Wally and Sheila Weisman and the Kinsman Foundation.

The production runs July 29 through October 31.

Founded by Angus Bowmer in 1935 and winner of a 1983 Tony Award for outstanding achievement in regional theatre, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival presents an eight-month season of 11 plays that include works by Shakespeare as well as a mix of classics, musicals, and new works. The Festival also draws attendance of more than 400,000 to almost 800 performances every year and employs approximately 575 theatre professionals. In 2008, OSF launched American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle, a 10-year cycle of commissioning new plays that has already resulted in several OSF commissions finding success nationwide.

Photo Credit: Jenny Graham

Photos: First Look at Tramell Tillman, Kimberly Scott, Jack Willis & More in Oregon Shakespeare Festival's SWEAT
Tyrone Wilson & Tramell Tillman

Photos: First Look at Tramell Tillman, Kimberly Scott, Jack Willis & More in Oregon Shakespeare Festival's SWEAT
Kimberley Scott & Jack Willis

Photos: First Look at Tramell Tillman, Kimberly Scott, Jack Willis & More in Oregon Shakespeare Festival's SWEAT
Jack Willis & Tramell Tillman

Photos: First Look at Tramell Tillman, Kimberly Scott, Jack Willis & More in Oregon Shakespeare Festival's SWEAT
Jack Willis, Stephen Michael Spencer & Tramell Tillman

Photos: First Look at Tramell Tillman, Kimberly Scott, Jack Willis & More in Oregon Shakespeare Festival's SWEAT
Jack Willis

Photos: First Look at Tramell Tillman, Kimberly Scott, Jack Willis & More in Oregon Shakespeare Festival's SWEAT
Kevin Kenerly & Jack Willis

Photos: First Look at Tramell Tillman, Kimberly Scott, Jack Willis & More in Oregon Shakespeare Festival's SWEAT
Kevin Kenerly, Kimberly Scott & Ensemble

Photos: First Look at Tramell Tillman, Kimberly Scott, Jack Willis & More in Oregon Shakespeare Festival's SWEAT
K.T. Vogt, Jack Willis, & Carlo Albán

Photos: First Look at Tramell Tillman, Kimberly Scott, Jack Willis & More in Oregon Shakespeare Festival's SWEAT
Tramell Tillman & Kimberly Scott


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