by Lynn Nottage
Since joining the Tower in 2002, Ian Hoare has been involved in more than thirty productions, mainly as an actor. Ian has also directed three Tower shows since 2016 - Hindle Wakes, An Enemy of the People and Antigone - and also was an Assistant Director on The Canterbury Tales earlier this year.
The director writes :
The Tower is very lucky to have the chance to produce this brilliant contemporary drama, which was described by The Observer's reviewer as "the year's most powerful play". Just a few months ago, it completed a highly successful West End run after transferring from the Donmar on the back of 5-star reviews. Its African-American author, Lynn Nottage, is one of the finest playwrights working in English today : Sweat earned her a second Pulitzer Prize in 2017.
The play is set in 2000 and 2008 in the Rust Belt town of Reading, Pennsylvania, and it deals with the impact of economic and political turmoil on the lives of a diverse group of steel workers. Lay-offs and picket lines tear apart friendships and family ties as the devastating global financial crisis takes shape.
Sweat will have a special resonance in the year that Donald Trump seeks re-election, and there are strong echoes of the aftermath of de-industrialisation in the UK in recent decades. The intensity of the relationships and the razor-sharp dialogue should be particularly well-suited to the Tower's intimate space.
The script specifies the age of the characters precisely (see below). But this does not mean you cannot play the part if you are not quite the right age : contact the director if you're not sure. The ethnicity of the characters has to be as written. We will be getting some advice on the accents.
Please note that if you are cast, you will be expected to do some preparatory text work.
At the heart of the play are the relationships between Tracey and Cynthia - the former white, the other black – and their sons, Jason and Chris. These are tremendous parts; but all nine characters are richly drawn, with compelling stories. All the characters were born in Berks County, Pennsylvania.
The characters are :
Evan : African-American, forties. Chris and Jason's parole officer in 2008. Mature, tenacious, streetwise, takes his work seriously. "Comfortably puffy".
Jason : white American of German descent, 21/29. Tracey's son and Chris's best friend. His father, Hank, died when Jason was a young boy. In 2000, he is a jacker at Olstead's steel factory, likes clubbing and Harleys. By 2008, he is just out of jail on parole, making pretzels for a living and has white supremacist tattoos on his face.
Chris : African-American, 21/29. Cynthia and Brucie's son, and Jason's best friend. In 2000, he works as a jacker; he likes weed, beer, sneakers, movies and basketball; and he is trying to save enough money to go to college. In 2008, he is just out of jail on parole, looking for work and living in a church rectory: "very neatly dressed, but quite fidgety and anxious".
Stan : white American of German descent, fifties. After working at Olstead's for 28 years, he now runs the bar where most of the action of the play takes place. Walks with a pronounced limp as a result of an accident at work that almost cost him his whole leg. Single, drinks with his customers. Likes to keep up with the news and is a leftish Democrat.
Oscar : Colombian-American, 22/30. Works as a busboy in the bar: "goes about his business, rarely acknowledged by anyone except Stan…quiet but visible…watching, listening and working." An important figure in the structure of the play.
Tracey : white American of German descent, 45/53. Jason's mother. In 2000, she has already done 26 years of physically punishing work at the factory. Like her friends Cynthia and Jessie, she is a union member. Enjoys a drink. In 2008, she is broke, with a drug habit.
Cynthia : African-American, 45/53. Chris's mother. She has a distant relationship with her husband, Brucie. Like her friends, Cynthia and Jessie, she has worked for many years at the factory; she suffers from backache, bunions and hand cramps as a result. Her decision to apply for promotion is central to the story.
Jessie : Italian-American, forties. Tracey and Cynthia's fellow worker and friend. Heavy drinker. She once wore a headband, had hair down to her butt and dreamed of going on the hippie trail round South-West Asia with her boyfriend.
Brucie : African-American, forties. Cynthia's estranged husband and Chris's father. He's been a regular drug user since he was locked out from his factory job. He was once a strong trade unionist.
Please read the script before auditioning. The edition we are using is published by Nick Hern Books. If you do not want to buy it, you can borrow a reading copy from the Tower office.
For details of which sections of text you should concentrate on for the audition, please contact the Director, Ian Hoare. It would also be helpful if you could let him know which audition you're planning to attend.
We are looking for the following :
Assistant Stage Manager(s)
Lighting and Sound Operators
If you are interested in any of these roles or in being involved in the show in any other capacity please contact the Director, Ian Hoare.