It’s the year 2000 in Reading, Pennsylvania and a group of friends go to work at the steel mill and then decompress at the bar like they’ve been doing for over 20 years. But, unbeknownst to them, their lives are about to be uprooted. Their steel mill, Olstead’s, is making some changes and the blood, sweat and tears, not to mention the generations of loyalty these workers have shown, don’t seem to amount to much. These middle class, unionized, steelworkers have made plans to save money, go on vacations and then retire with a nice, healthy pension, but when rumors start flying that the company is considering layoffs, and flyers are hung to recruit non-union Latino workers for less money, the war between community and capitalism begins, and tensions start destroying not only jobs, but also relationships. This poignant play takes a look at the de-industrial revolution through the lens of a history play, but also delves into the issues of today: the economy, immigration, race-relations in America, and politics. Lynn Nottage’s Sweat gives us characters filled with the good and the bad and asks us to reflect on our own views and the views of others. Nottage never tells us who’s right or who’s wrong, but always shows us who’s human.
Sweat guide sections