San Diego

The Reason San Diego Rep Artistic Director Sam Woodhouse Wanted to Stage Pulitzer Prize-Winning “SWEAT”

"Sweat" Playwright Lynn Nottage is the only woman to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice.

When Sam Woodhouse, the artistic director of San Diego Rep, first read the Pulitzer Prize-winning play "SWEAT," he "absolutely" knew he had to stage the piece. 

"It's a very compelling and gripping true story," Woodhouse, who will direct the play, explained to NBC 7 San Diego during a phone interview. 

The play takes place in Reading, Pennsylvania; a group of friends working at a local factory is suddenly faced with layoffs. The play, which debuted on Broadway in 2017, is based on extensive research and interviews playwright Nottage conducted in what was considered one of America's poorest towns. 

"SWEAT" is a great American drama about the intersection of race, class, family and friendship, said Woodhouse. It's a powerful story, he added, which was one of the reasons he felt compelled to bring it to the San Diego Rep. 

"It's a true story about a community where opportunity just walks away," Woodhouse said. "It's a play about the industrialization of America and people who feel betrayed by the commitment to the American dream: it evaporates." 

In addition, the play brings features a cast of normally underrepresented Americans in the theatre. 

"It also is a play that puts on stage historically underrepresented part of the American population, which is the American working class," Woodhouse explained. "People who work with their bodies for a living, what used to be called blue collar."

Those characters - a small cast of factory workers - are living the lives their parents and grandparents lived, Woodhouse said. They have a long family history of working at the factory until it's ripped away from them.

"What happens when the factory crumbles and goes away? What happens to your self-esteem?" Woodhouse said. "It's more than being unemployed or laid off. It's a greater impact."

Woodhouse said the San Diego Rep audience is curious, educated and adventurous, and "SWEAT" is the perfect fit for them. 

"This kind of insightful, true-blooded, real politic American story is something that our audience loves and speaks eloquently about the times we live in," Woodhouse said.

"If you believe the theatre should speak eloquently about the time you live in, you should come see this play," he added.

"SWEAT" runs at San Diego Rep's Lyceum Theatre from April 18 to May 12. For tickets, click here. 

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