• Deeper dive: A closer look at 'Sweat'

    by John Moore | Apr 09, 2018

    In the video above, playwright Lynn Nottage and Broadway director Kate Whoriskey talk about connecting to the human experience with 'Sweat.'


    Note: In this daily series, we have been taking a deeper dive into the eight titles recently announced on the DCPA Theatre Company's 2018-19 season. Today we finish with Sweat

    Sweat

    • Written by: Lynn Nottage
    • Year: 2015
    • Director: Nataki Garrett
    • Dates: April 26-May 26, 2019 (Opens May 3)
    • Where: Space Theatre
    • Genre: Drama
    • Ruined. Photo by Terry Shapiro. About the author: Nottage is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter from Brooklyn. In a national survey conducted by the DCPA NewsCenter following the 2017 death of Edward Albee, Nottage placed third as the leading, living voice in American playwriting, behind only Tony Kushner and Sam Shepard (who has since passed away). "Lynn Nottage, like August Wilson before her, spotlights the marginalized without sentiment, sensationalism or a victim mentality," The Denver Post wrote in 2011. Sweat won the Pulitzer, an Obie Award, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and was nominated for a Tony Award. Ruined, which also won a Pulitzer, is set amid civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, based on the playwright's interviews with Congolese women, exposing largely unknown radical and violent injustice that happening in Africa. That made for one of the most remarkable productions in DCPA Theatre Company history in 2011. Nottage's Intimate Apparel has been presented at the Arvada Center and, just last month, at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. Nottage is currently an artist-in-residence at the Park Avenue Armory. (Pictured above: Kim Staunton in the DCPA's 'Ruined.' Photo by Terry Shapiro.)
    • lynn-nottage QUOTEThe play at a glance: For the people of poverty-stricken Reading, Pa., work is  much more than a paycheck – it’s the glue that has held the town together for generations. The floor of their central factory is where lifelong friendships are made, where love blossoms and where family members work side-by-side. But as layoffs become the new norm and a cheaper workforce threatens the viability of the local union, the threads that once kept the community together begin to fray. Using warm humor and deep empathy, Nottage paints a moving portrait of today’s working-class America in decline.
    • Says the playwright: "I very much wanted the play to be a conversation starter. I feel my role as an artist isn't to come up with solutions but to ask the right questions at the right moment.”
    • Says new DCPA Artistic Director Chris Coleman: "One of the things I love the most about Lynn Nottage is the way she takes an idea and makes it human. Lynn is a significant voice in the American theatre, and I’m thrilled we get to experience her work again. We’re also incredibly lucky to have a powerhouse director like Nataki Garrett at the helm of this important drama, and I look forward to taking the questions this play asks and diving deeper into conversations with the Denver community.”

    The N.Y. Times article that inspired Nottage to write Sweat

    • The author's influence: Nottage began working on the play in 2011 by interviewing residents of Reading, which at the time was, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, officially one of the poorest cities in America, with a poverty rate of 41 percent. Nottage was particularly influenced by a New York Times article reporting on that city. "Reading is a city that’s sort of hopelessly fractured along racial and economic lines," Nottage told the Village Voice. "When you’re there, you feel it."
    • What the critics have said about Sweat: The New York Times called Sweat "an extraordinarily moving drama that powerfully contrasts life’s happiest highs with the heart-wrenching struggles of survival." The play's characters have  been described as the same kind of disenfranchised blue-collar workers who voted for Donald Trump in 2016. Michael Schulman of The New Yorker called Sweat "the first theatrical landmark of the Trump Era —  a tough yet empathetic portrait of the America that came undone." He also said Nottage's play "harks back to the working-class naturalism of Clifford Odets." Wrote Jeremy Gerard of Deadline: “No play in recent memory has shed more light on the crises and tribulations of America’s great retrenched working middle class than Sweat."
    • Notes on the play: Sweat was first performed by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2015. It moved to to Broadway after a sold out off-Broadway run at The Public Theater. The Broadway cast included Carlo AlbanLydia5, who made an indelible turn in the DCPA Theatre Company's Lydia in 2008 (pictured right. ... The action takes place in a fictional bar. The story tells of two meetings: One between a parole officer and two ex-convictl the other three women who were childhood friends working in the same factory. Switching scenes from the present with eight years before, Nottage shows how events take these characters on divergent pathways ... Lower education generally means higher poverty.  Just 8 percent of Reading residents have a bachelor’s degree. The national average is 28 percent.

    TC-web-Season-Ann-800x3004
    Artwork by DCPA Senior Graphic Designer Kyle Malone.

    2018-19 DCPA Theatre Company season at a glance:

  • Aug. 24-Sept. 30: Vietgone (Ricketson Theatre) READ MORE
  • Sept. 7-Oct. 14: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (Stage Theatre) READ MORE
  • Sept. 21-Oct. 21: The Constant Wife (Space Theatre) READ MORE
  • Nov. 21-Dec. 24: A Christmas Carol (Stage Theatre) READ MORE
  • Jan. 18-Feb. 24, 2019: Last Night and the Night Before (Ricketson Theatre) READ MORE
  • Jan. 25-Feb. 24, 2019: Anna Karenina (Stage Theatre) READ MORE
  • Feb. 8-March 10, 2019: The Whistleblower (Space Theatre) READ MORE
  • April 26-May 26, 2019: Sweat (Space Theatre) READ MORE

  • DCPA Theatre Company tickets and subscriptions:
    New and renewing subscribers have the first opportunity to reserve tickets. Subscription packages are now available online at denvercenter.org or by calling 303-893-4100. Subscribers enjoy 30 percent off savings, free ticket exchanges, payment plans, priority offers to added attractions, discounted extra tickets, a dedicated VIP hotline, free events including talkbacks and receptions, and the best seats at the best prices, guaranteed. Single ticket on-sale date will be announced at a later time. BUY ONLINE

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Meet the cast: Kim Staunton of 'Two Degrees'

    by John Moore | Feb 10, 2017
    Kim Staunton Quote. Two Degrees


    MEET KIM STAUNTON

    Senator Louise Allen in Two Degrees

    At the Theatre Company: black odyssey, Fences, To Kill A Mockingbird, Ruined, A Raisin in the Sun, Radio Golf, Doubt, Gem of the Ocean, A Selfish Sacrifice, The Madwoman, Streetcar Named Desire, King Hedley II, Pork Pie, many more. Other theatres: Indiana Rep, Milwaukee Rep, Arizona Theater Company, South Coast Rep, Seattle Rep, Lake Dillon Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Berkeley Rep, Colorado Shakespeare. TV/Film: First Sunday, Changing Lanes, Heat, Holy Man, “Army Wives,Kim Staunton Ruined. ” “The Nine,” “Bones,” “Law and Order,” “New York Undercover.” Awards include Denver Post Ovation Awards, Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Award, Westword’s Best of Denver.

    • Hometown: Washington, DC
    • Home now: Encino, Calif.
    • Training: The Juilliard School Also trained as a Ten Chimneys Lunt-Fontanne Fellow
    • What was the role that changed your life? Playing Mama Nadi in Ruined, by Lynn Nottage, for the DCPA Theatre Company in 2011. (Photo at right. Click here to read the Denver Post review.) It was a tour-de-force, modern-day Mother Courage role that allowed me to be a conduit for important and profound storytelling. I got to tap into a character's passion, toughness, rage, vulnerability and tenderness.
    • Why are you an actor? I love the opportunity to be part of an ensemble and experience that allows me to communicate ideas and emotions through characters and imaginary circumstances that hopefully have an impact and make a difference to an audience. I also appreciate that I am able to use the theater, film and television as powerful mediums for great storytelling.
    • What would you be doing if you weren't an actor: I would be a grMeryl Streepade-school teacher. It was my dream for all my life up until ninth grade. I had to choose an elective, which ended up being drama.
    • Ideal scene partner: Meryl Streep. Besides being one of the greatest actresses on the planet, I appreciate her versatility, detail and transformation as an actress in her work.
    • Kim Staunton Quote. Two Degrees. Photo by Adams VisComWhy does Two Degrees matter? Because it's a timely story about science, grief, love, relationships, humanity, sexuality ... and women over 45! I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to contribute to this great storytelling that has such a big and important voice.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? I hope they will be provoked to think, feel and hopefully be interested and open to learning more about climate science and climate change. This is a very serious issue that is important to our world, our lives and the future of our planet.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "... a kind, inclusive, loving world."
    (Photo above and right: Kathleen McCall and Kim Staunton in 'Two Degrees.' Photo by Adams VisCom.)

    Video Bonus: Our 2014 profile of Kim Staunton


    Ticket information: Two Degrees

    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.
    Through March 12

    Jones Theatre
    ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Two Degrees:
    Photos, video: Your first look at Two Degrees
    Two Degrees: A telling exchange at public forum
    Tira Palmquist on Two Degrees: Grief for a husband, and a planet
    Two Degrees
    cast digs deep into Boulder ice-core research
    Two Degrees
    heats up conversation on global warming
    Two Degrees: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

    More 2016-17 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Steven J. Burge, An Act of God
    Liam Craig, The Book of Will
    Aubrey Deeker, The Glass Menagerie
    Thaddeus Fitzpatrick, Frankenstein
    Meridith C. Grundei, Frankenstein
    Steven Cole Hughes, An Act of God
    Sullivan Jones, Frankenstein
    Mark Junek, Frankenstein
    Charlie Korman, Frankenstein
    Jennifer Le Blanc, The Book of Will
    Rodney Lizcano, The Book of Will
    Wesley Mann, The Book of Will
    Robert Manning Jr., The Christians

    Amelia Pedlow, The Glass Menagerie
    Jessica Robblee, Frankenstein
    Erik Sandvold, An Act of God
    John Skelley, The Glass Menagerie
    Caitlin Wise, The Christians

     

  • Meet the cast: Maurice Jones

    by John Moore | Sep 17, 2015
    At the Theatre Company: Ruined, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Taming of the Shrew, A Christmas Carol. Broadway: Julius Caesar, Romeo & Juliet. Roundabout: Little Children Dream of God. Folger Shakespeare Library: Julius Caesar. Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey: The Learned Ladies. National Theatre Conservatory: Richard III, Charley’s Aunt, Fahrenheit 451, Topdog/Underdog, The Good Woman of Setzuan, Nicholas Nickleby, Our Town. Cabaret Theatre: Glengarry Glen Ross, Six Degrees of Separation, Suzan Lori Parks’ 365 Days/365 Plays. Livingston Theatre Company: Ragtime, Once On This Island. Television: “30 Rock,” “Conviction.” Film: Winter’s Tale, And So It Goes. Training: MFA, National Theatre Conservatory, DCPA.

    MEET MAURICE JONES
    Jones, Maurice_August 2015Orlando in As You Like It​

  • Hometown: Trenton, N.J.
  • Training: Rutgers University/National Theatre Conservatory at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (MFA)
  • What was the role that changed your life? Not so much the role that changed my life, but rather the show, would have to be the 2011 production of Ruined that I was honored to be in here at the Denver Center. Directed by Seret Scott and starring the incomparable Kim Staunton, Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winnig play was the first true and tangible evidence that I had ever experienced about how important and socially enlightening Ruined. Photo by Terry Shapiro. theatre could really be. It was nothing less than a high honor to be a part of the telling of that story. There were audience members who had no idea that such radical and violent injustice was happening in the world. I met countless patrons after the show who, with tears flooding their eyes, would come to me and simply say, “I had no idea.” That afforded a the privileged opportunity one can sometimes have as an actor. That is to say in reply, “And now you know.” And that’s my job as an actor. (Photo: Kim Staunton in 'Ruined."' Photo by Terry Shapiro.)
  • What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t an actor? If I weren’t an actor I would doubtless be an educator. I studied English at Rutgers University and would love to teach a course on dramatic literature or acting. I taught music for a couple of summers at the Denver Center Theatre Academy and found working with young children so much for fulfilling than I thought I would. It really solidified education as a solid, solid future goal of mine.
  • James Earl JonesIdeal scene partner: It might have to be James Earl Jones circa 1987 in August Wilson’s Fences. There is a video online you can watch of his performance as Troy with Courtney B. Vance playing his son, Cory. I watch it perhaps once a week to marvel at what pure power on stage looks like. I would be beyond terrified to do that scene with that man, but that’s also what excites me about it!
  • Why does this play matter? As You Like It was written in 1599 and remains a popular play for very good reason. Like so many of Shakespeare’s plays. it is truly timeless in its themes, its ideas and its sensibilities. This play matters in 2015 because it beautifully and comically highlights the fervent, earnest, turbulent and oftentimes wacky pursuit of true love. It captures the giddy speechlessness of awkward teenage infatuation, the fickleness of romantic interest and the importance of patience when it comes to your heart’s desires. All themes that have always been and will always be prevalent.
  • What do you hope the audience gets out of As You Like it? I truly hope audiences leave uplifted and entertained. It’s a fast-paced story of madcap cross Rumidressing, body slamming, guitar playing, forest dwelling, back stabbing, poetry writing, heart professing love! Requited and otherwise.
  • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ... " to “respond to every call that excites my spirit.” ~ Rumi

  • Maurice Jones, who plays Orlando, reads at the first rehearsal for 'As You Like It.' Photo by John Moore.

    Maurice Jones, who plays Orlando, reads at the first rehearsal for 'As You Like It.' Photo by John Moore.

    More 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Molly Brennan, Red Queen and others, Lookingglass Alice
    Maurice Jones, Orlando in As You Like It
  • Page to Stage video highlights: Kim Staunton with John Moore

    by John Moore | Feb 15, 2014

    Who doesn't need an hour with Denver Center Theatre Company actor Kim Staunton in their lives? No one. Next best thing: Seven minutes of highlights from our hour with Kim Staunton at the Tattered Cover Bookstore.

    Staunton is an open-hearted actress is known for leaving blood on the floor while playing tough roles such as Blanche in "A Streetcar Named Desire," Rose in "Fences" and Mama Nadi in "Ruined."

    No matter what role she is playing, Staunton rips her rib cage open, says moderator John Moore, to reveal a rare combination of vulnerability and outright ferociousness. Staunton, currently starring in "black odyssey" though Sunday (Feb. 16), recently joined Moore for Page to Stage, a series of free, monthly noontime conversations that have since moved to the Tattered Cover on East Colfax Avenue.

    In the highlights video above, the two talk about race in casting, Staunton's seminal roles, her brush with movie stardom ("Changing Lanes" with Samuel L. Jackson) and finding home at the Denver Center.

    "I'm just glad people like (the Denver Center's) Randal Myler and Israel Hicks and Donovan Marley and Kent Thompson say, 'Let's try something different. Let's forget the color of the person's skin.' " Staunton says.

    "This is exactly where I'm supposed to be," she says of her time at the Denver Center. "I literally was handed the roles of a lifetime."

    Staunton is currently playing several roles parts the Denver Center Theatre Company's world premiere of "black odyssey," closing tomorrow at the Space Theatre. This magical new play recasts Homer’s The Odyssey from an African-American perspective.

    Page to Stage is designed to enrich Denver Center audiences’ theatre experience and spark a conversation.

    Our next event, to be held at noon March 4, features the cast of national touring production of Million Dollar Quartet, which plays The Buell Theatre from Feb. 25 through March 9. That's the true story of the one recording session between Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Brought together in 1956 by Sam Phillips, that legendary night comes to life on the stage featuring timeless hits including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “That’s All Right,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “I Walk the Line,” “Who Do You Love?,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog” and more.

    Moore will be joined by cast members as they discuss the show, the music and even play a few hits from the show. Reminder: These events are now held at the The Tattered Cover at 2526 E. Colfax Ave.

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    ABOUT THE EDITOR
    John Moore
    John Moore
    Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

    DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.