The Public Theater will bring Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway play Sweat to 18 midwest cities as part of a new initiative called Mobile Unit National. The program is an expansion of the Public's long-running Mobile Unit, which tours New York City's five boroughs biannually, bringing free theatre to a number of different communities.
Sweat will play a free, four-week tour across Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Wisconsin beginning September 27. Kate Whoriskey, who helmed the play both on and Off-Broadway, will return to direct the touring production.
Reprising their roles from the Broadway production will be Carlo Albán as Oscar and Lance Coadie Willams as Evan. Joining them will be Benton Greene as Brucie, Hunter Hoffman as Jason, and Steve Key as Stan, with further casting to be announced.
“Sweat tells the story of Reading, Pennsylvania, but it could be any post-industrial city across the landscape,” says playwright Nottage, who won her second Pulitzer for the play. “One of the beautiful things about what we’re trying to do with the Mobile Unit National Tour is to link narratives and bring people not just in the communities into dialogue, but people across communities into dialogue and figure out how can we strategize and shift the national conversation.”
Sweat is about a group of friends who have spent their lives working together on the factory floor. When rumors of layoffs begin to stir, rifts form, chipping away at their trust and pitting them against each other.
The play opened on Broadway in March 2017 following an acclaimed and sold-out Off-Broadway engagement at the Public Theater. The drama was co-commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and D.C.’s Arena Stage, and received its world premiere at OSF in July 2015. The Public Theater engagement of Sweat, which began in November 2016, was extended three times.
“The Sweat Mobile National Tour is our most dramatic attempt to break out of our New York bubble and speak to those who the non-profit theater has largely ignored: the rural communities of the upper Midwest,” said artistic director of The Public Oskar Eustis. “If the culture belongs to everyone, it belongs to the citizens of Kenosha, Erie, and Saginaw as much as it belongs to Manhattan. We are thrilled to be bringing Lynn Nottage’s brilliant Pulitzer Prize-winning play across America.”
In addition to performances, the Mobile Unit national tour of Sweat will engage with communities before and after each performance through a variety of programs, coordinated by both local partners and The Public. Activities will range from story circles, to community art projects and theatre-driven workshops.
Sweat will feature scenic design by Wilson Chin, costume design by Christopher Metzger, and sound design by Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen. Performances in Minnesota will be produced in collaboration with the Guthrie Theater.