The St. Louis Black Repertory Company revisits the opening production of its 45th Anniversary Season with Sweat by Lynn Nottage in a celebratory performance at the William Inge Theater Festival in Independence, Kansas. Addressing the complexities of race, class and friendship at a pivotal moment in America, the powerful work will be directed once again by Founder and Producing Director Ron Himes.

The William Inge Theater Festival will celebrate its 39th anniversary April 21-23, 2022 by honoring Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage with the Distinguished Achievement in the American Theater Award. Lynn Nottage is the first Black woman to receive the award.

Nottage is the only woman to date to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama two times. Her Pulitzer Prize-winning plays are Ruined and Sweat, and they are two among scores of  award-winning stories written for theatre, film, and television. 

“Playwright Nottage tensely captures the root of our current political and racial tension in society today,” said Himes. “Are we only looking out for ourselves or are we responsible for each other?”

Says William Inge Center for the Arts Producing Artistic Director, Hannah Joyce, “I believe audiences will be deeply moved by Nottage’s work which champions the everyman, the working class, and marginalized. She writes the struggle and humanity of her characters with enormous compassion and respect. There’s no finer playwright in our country than Lynn Nottage to represent true excellence in the American theatre. The William Inge Center for the Arts is long overdue in the presentation of this recognition. We are honored by her acceptance of the Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award.”

The cast of Sweat for The Black Rep’s production features Velma Austin (Cynthia), Wali Jamal Abdullah (Brucie), Amy Loui (Tracey), Don McClendon (Evan), and Brian McKinley (Chris). Franklin Killian (Jason), Blake Anthony Edwards (Stan), Gregory Almanza (Oscar), and Kelly Howe (Jessie) will all be joining the cast once again, as well as Christina Yancy (U/S Cynthia).

The production will feature Scenic Design by Tim Jones, Lighting Design by Jonathan D. Alexander, Costume Design by Hali Liles, Sound Design by Kareem Deanes, and Properties Design by Meg Brinkley. Fight Choreography was done by Paul Steger who is certified by the Society of American Fight Directors and holds advanced certificates from the British Academy of Stage and Screen Combat & Fight Directors. Jim Anthony is the Stage Manager and Acting Fellow Taijha Silas is the Assistant Stage Manager.

Nottage will attend the Festival and accept the Award in person; she will join writers such as Wendy Wasserstein, August Wilson, Neil Simon, Paula Vogel, Stephen Sondheim, David Henry Hwang, and Arthur Miller—among many other theatre luminaries—who have traveled to Independence to accept the Festival’s Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award. 

The Black Rep’s “Sweat”

About The Black Rep

The Black Rep, a 45-year-old legacy Black arts organization, is committed to producing, re-imagining, and commissioning work written by Black playwrights and creating opportunities for new voices and youth. Founded by Producing Director Ron Himes, the vision for The Black Rep continues: a more equitable distribution of opportunities and resources for Black professionals and students in the theatre; improved representation on and back-stage in the theatre industry; and a fostered community culture of support and mentorship for those who will follow.

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