Presented as part of the mainstage performance season for the Theatre program at Old Dominion University.
6-week rehearsal process, regulated by COVID-19 protocols and restrictions.
Director: Brittney S. Harris
Set Designer: Jim Lyden
Costume Designer: Meredith Magoun
Lighting Designer: Sean Blue
Sound Designer: Marcus Pratt
Esther, an African American seamstress in 1905 New York, is a practical woman with quiet dreams. She hopes for lovely things— fine fabric, beautiful words, a loving touch, while supporting herself making exquisite negligees and corsets for women across the social strata. When a distant suitor reaches out through poignant and sensitive letters, her life changes. Through friendship, betrayal, and hope, she stitches herself a new life, a crazy quilt from the pieces, homely to look at but warming to the soul.
Layers. Limitations. Liberation.
Intimate Apparel began as a recombination of a fictitious family story about Lynn Nottage’s great-grandmother’s life as an African American seamstress in the early twentieth century and a photograph of “a beautiful white wedding corset embossed with orange blossoms.” It is a history play that necessarily and importantly does not recount its period and history but rather creates the past. The play’s characters are made up of those overlooked by traditional history: stories scarcely told and identities slandered by socio-cultural stereotypes and prejudices.
Our redefining of Nottage’s breathtaking text aims to comb out the desires within and expose them at their seams. I’ve come to describe our production as a patchwork quilt of woven narratives stitched together over time through the themes of gender, race and class, and religion. We seek to open a space within which to examine, through a different lens, the silhouettes of the “history of the present” and its complicated tensions wrought of contradictory desires. In so doing, the thoughts that begin these notes blossoms into a bigger question: who’s history are we creating on stage? A migrating dreamer from the South? An immigrant’s journey? An ex-slave’s? High maiden of society? A “lady of the night”?
For the past 6 weeks, the entire cast and production team have diligently rehearsed, revised, and rehearsed again still within the confines of a pandemic wrought world: adding our own revisions to Nottage’s play and the play, in turn, has restitched our thoughts, self-conceptions, and worldviews. Theatre is rooted in personal intimate interaction - it is a society within itself, a microcosm of society as a whole.
Mace & Crown
“Intimate Apparel” is a Patchwork of Participation and Performance Haulenbeek, S.
Spotlight News Press
ODU Rep's Intimate Apparel Reveals Innermost Details of Characters Lives
"Amazing cast, the transitions were smooth, the story was mind-blowing and so relatable and the acting was flawless. I will absolutely be back again."
"I loved the whole plot. It was extremely interesting and there were moments where I was shocked (i.e. Mayme sleeping with her husband, as I believed she had seen George before with Esther). I was in a trance the whole time! 10/10"
"Performance generated an atmosphere for sympathy. Ultimately loved it. Cast and crew nailed it :)"
"I felt this play was very well executed from costume design, set design, acting and overall story. Each actor did a wonderful job portraying their characters, making me love/hate everyone. The main actress did a phenomenal job and shook me to my core when she cried out. Overall fantastic performance!!!"
"This show is AMAZING!!!! The flow, the details, the precision, the gentleness... also the SET IS GORGEOUS!!! And the costumes... WONDERFUL SHOW."
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