In Lynn Nottage’s drama “Intimate Apparel,” an African-American seamstress named Esther works in the Manhattan of the early 1900s, designing and sewing undergarments. Feeling frustrated and overlooked when it comes to love, she embarks on a pen-pal courtship with a man more than 1,000 miles away, even though intimacy may be closer than she realizes.
The play, produced by the College at Brockport Department of Theatre and Music Studies, opens at 7:30 p.m. on April 26 in the Tower Fine Arts Center Mainstage Theatre, 180 Holley St., Brockport.
“All of my plays are about people who have been marginalized … erased from public record,” said Nottage, the only woman to win the Pulitzer Prize twice for drama.
Esther thinks of herself as invisible to potential romantic partners. As a spinster in 1905 New York, she felt society would not allow her to pursue a future with either the forward-thinking, rich, sophisticated Mrs. Van Buren or Mr. Marks, a Lower East Side purveyor of the fabrics Esther uses in her trade. Thousands of years of religious traditions and social mores keep them apart.
While Esther toils away, sewing intimate apparel, intimacy eludes her. Her resilience empowers her to make her life her own.
“Esther faces a lot of tough trials through the play,” said director Jasmine Gunter, a directing fellow at Geva Theatre Center. “There are moments where we, as the audience, will see her defeated and devastated. But at the end of the play, there is a sense that wherever Esther goes from here, she will be OK. She is strong enough.”
Gunter added her experience with college-aged actors is they “bring so much optimism and so much trust to a production … possibly more than a seasoned actor. There is this eagerness to learn and soak up knowledge about what it means to truly act and truly be in the moment. In a way, they are more willing to take risks on stage. It’s refreshing to watch.”
Performances of “Intimate Apparel” will take place at 7:30 p.m. on April 26-27 and May 2-4, with an ASL-interpreted matinee at 2 p.m. on April 28.
Tickets are $17 general admission; $12 for seniors, alumni, faculty and staff; and $9 for students. Call (585) 395-2787 or visit bit.ly/2IuARLA for information.