The 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Sweat,” a drama about a group of working-class friends facing economic upheaval in the 2000s, is coming to Sacramento this month for the first time at Capital Stage.
The play, written in 2015 by Lynn Nottage, follows several blue-collar factory workers in Reading, Pennsylvania, as they navigate their lives both before and after the 2007-2008 global financial crisis.
Michael Stevenson, producing artistic director at Capital Stage, said that despite taking place in the 2000s — the action jumps from 2000 to 2008 — the play’s themes of economic flux are more than just an exercise in history.
“It’s more relevant than ever,” Stevenson said. “Right now we’re in a boom. Around the corner could be a bust.”
Stevenson said “Sweat” echoes conversations happening every day in the current political climate — those involving displacement of domestic jobs in favor of cheap foreign labor, economic protectionism, and immigration.
Although Sacramento is not an industrial community, Stevenson said, he knew several locals who lost their homes in the wake of the housing market crash.
“I think everybody knew somebody who was affected like that,” Stevenson said. “So, I think it’ll have a real strong resonance.”
Michael J. Asberry, one of the lead actors in “Sweat,” said that he could personally relate to many of the play’s themes, having grown up in Pittsburg, California, a small industrial town less than two hours from Sacramento.
Pittsburg’s economy, like Reading’s, has historically been reliant on steel, Asberry said, and he knows how devastated the community would be if something were to disrupt the industry.
Asberry’s family from Gary, Indiana, witnessed their city’s economy crumble after the departure of a steel mill, a disaster from which Gary is still trying to recover, he said.
Whether in Pennsylvania or here in California, the issues presented by the play affect everybody in the country, Asberry said.
“I just think it’s a simple American story about having something, having a dream, and then having that dream yanked out from under you,” Asberry said.
If you go
Where: Capital Stage at 2215 J Street, Sacramento
When: Oct. 17-Nov. 18
Previews are on Oct. 17 and 18 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 19 at 8 p.m.
Opening night is Oct. 20 at 8 p.m.
Regular performances are on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Admission: Previews: $22
Opening night: $42-$47
Regular performances: $30-$42
More information regarding showtimes and admission can be found on Capital Stage’s website.