A complete guide to the West End transfer of Sweat at the Gielgud Theatre
After critically-acclaimed performances at the Donmar Warehouse, Sweat transfers to the West End, playing at the Gielgud Theatre. With cast members reprising their roles in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play that discusses what it means to live in a poor community in America, find out more about the production here.
All you need to know about Sweat
Is Sweat based on a true story?
Sweat is inspired by interviews conducted by Lynn Nottage in 2011 during her time in Reading, Pennsylvania. Prior to visiting the city, Nottage had read about the city, startled by the statistic that the town carried the label of the highest share of citizens living in poverty in the USA according to the 2010 census. Exploring what it meant to be a part of the community, Nottage tore the fabric and dove into the heart of the city, talking to residents about the loss of heavy industry and who resided in the surrounding areas. From conversations, Nottage was able to weave real-life stories, as well as comparisons between Reading and Mansfield, England to create Sweat.
Sweat was first performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2015, before transferring to Washington D.C and eventually in New York on 3rd November 2016. The year after, Sweat made its Broadway premiere at Studio 54 and earned three Tony Award nominations, including best play. Read about winners at the 2019 Tony Awards here.
Who is Lynn Nottage?
Lynn Nottage is a double Pulitzer Prize-winning author, winning the Pulitzer Prize for drama award for Ruined (2009) and again for Sweat (2017). Driven by a desire to tell real-life stories through her work, Nottage conducts interviews with communities whose voices are rarely told through theatre; Ruined was inspired by conversations with Congolese refugees in Africa. Concerned with the lives of marginalised people, Nottage has established herself as a leading twenty-first-century playwright, with further plays including The Secret Life of Bees (2019), By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (2011) and Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine (2004). Read more about Nottage and other playwrights whose works are being performed in the West End here.
What is the synopsis?
Inspired by interviews conducted by Lynn Nottage, audiences at Sweat meet a parole officer, ex-convicts and childhood friends congregating at Mike’s Tavern, a fictional bar in Reading, Pennsylvania. Examining what it means to live the ‘American Dream’ in a crumbling town, Sweat details how work and family relationships can break down as a result of racial tensions and immigration. Offering West End audiences a first-hand insight into what it means to live in America amidst a changing political climate, Sweat encourages conversation of identity, belonging and stability in a turbulent society.
When was Sweat first performed in London?
Sweat ran at the Donmar Warehouse from 7th December 2018 to 2nd February 2019, extended at the Donmar for an extra week of performances due to demand.
“The sense of time and place – and an awful dramatic inevitability – is established with pinpoint accuracy both in Nottage’s intimate yet sweeping narrative energy and also in director Lynette Linton’s richly inhabited production.”
“(Plimpton’s) Tracey is wild, fierce and desperately vulnerable, the order of the factory protecting her from her worst instincts. Perkins as Cynthia – loud and decent, with a devastating 2008 cameo – is the show’s beating heart.”
“Lynette Linton ’s superbly calibrated production excels from start to finish. Outstanding.”
Who starred in Sweat at the Gielgud Theatre?
Martha Plimpton reprises her performance as Tracey in the Gielgud transfer of Sweat, with previous theatre credits including Top Girls and The Coast of Utopia, with both plays earning her a Tony Award nomination.
Clare Perkins reprises her performance as Cynthia, recently starring in Emilia at the Vaudeville Theatre, closing on 1st June. They are joined by Sule Rimi as Evan, who starred in The American Clock and All My Sons at the Old Vic earlier this year.
The cast is completed by Leanne Best (Jessie), Patrick Gibson (Jason), Osy Ikhile (Chris), Wil Johnson (Brucie), Stuart McQuarrie (Stan) and Sebastian Viveros (Oscar).