Intimate Apparel: a story of determination and dreams

By Sean Goodwin

The Department of Theatre and New Dance is preparing to premiere “Intimate Apparel” by Lynn Nottage this Thursday in the University Theatre.

The play, which is directed by Professor Linda Bisesti, is about the lives of immigrants in in New York City during 1905.

“It’s a really beautiful love story about a very challenging time in American history,” Bisesti said.

At the heart of the story is a female African-American seamstress named Esther Hill, who is being played by fourth-year theater student Mary Hill.

“She’s trying to find her way in her life, and she comes across love for the first time,” Hill said.

However, this is a complex play set in a complicated time.

It is truly about the struggle that comes from Esther seeking love.

As Hill puts it, “things take a turn as the play continues.”

The play will also incorporate many other stories about various characters to show what it would be like to be an immigrant during that time period.

“The story isn’t just about Esther. It’s about Esther, her life and how she interacts with the other people in her life.”

Third-year theater student Jesse Alvarado, who is playing a Jewish shop owner named Mr. Marks, feels that the complexity of the characters gives the play a huge opportunity to connect with the audience.

“You see everybody’s lives. You see how different they all are and how different we all are. I feel like you can come in and relate to somebody. You can relate to losing somebody. You can relate to not being able to love somebody,” Alvarado said.

To pull off a performance like this, the environment has an equal role in immersing the audience as the characters do.

Not only does the set need to accommodate the actors, it also needs to look as authentic as possible to the time period.

Michael Tarr, a second-year theater student, supplied the production with the props.

“It was pretty interesting trying to find all this stuff. My challenge was the amount of props I had to find in so little time,” Tarr said.

Christiana Kuey, a fourth-year theatre student, designed the set for the production.

“It’s a lot of pressure to make sure everything is good. Every inch being correct makes a difference,” Kuey said. “I’m just proud of how far it has come and how it looks right now.”

There is a lot within this show to make it worth watching, but what makes it special is how relevant it still is.

Although the story takes place over a century ago on the other side of the country, the messages still pertain to our current society.

Fifth-year theater student Sarah Nyenke summed up the play by describing it from a historical viewpoint, which is still relevant today.

“This is a manifestation of desires,” Nyenke said. “It’s during the industrial period. People are immigrating from across the world. They know that this is the land of opportunity, and these six characters are trying their best to survive and find a new chapter in their lives. This is so related to our times now.”

For Bisesti, she thinks the importance of the plot is to celebrate what so many people hope for when they come to America.

“I think it’s really important to celebrate the opportunity for people to have the American dream,” Bisesti said.

“Intimate Apparel” will premiere at 8p.m., Thursday Nov. 9 in the University Theatre. There will be additional showings on Nov. 16, 17 and 18 at 8 p.m., with a matinee performance on Nov. 19 at 2 p.m.

Fourth-year theatre student Mary Hill plays the role of a seamstress named Esther Hill

Courtesy of Chris Bashaw and the Department of Theatre and New Dance

Fourth-year theatre student Mary Hill plays the role of a seamstress named Esther Hill

Third-year theatre student Jesse Alvarado plays a shop owner named Mr. Marks alongside Hill

Courtesy of Chris Bashaw and the Department of Theatre and New Dance

Third-year theatre student Jesse Alvarado plays a shop owner named Mr. Marks alongside Hill

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