The UWG theatre company presented their first community preview of Intimate Apparel written by Lynn Nottage at the Townsend Center for Performing Arts. The performance dates were April 18-22 which started at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 23 at 2:30 p.m.The play was directed by a guest artist, Thomas W. Jones Jr.
Intimate Apparel is a personal drama about love and relationships, dreams and desire. To get the audience in the right mindset, the audience were told that the setting of the play is in New York City during the early 1900s. Of course, several things that could pass in today’s society was not accepted by the people during that time period and that affected Esther tremendously. Esther, the hard working African-American seamstress who creates fashionable lingerie, had a vision of owning her own business someday, which she did.
The way the actors performed the play kept the audience intrigued from beginning to end. While watching, each character was passionate about what they were doing; actually putting themselves into the character. The characters made the audience feel different types of emotions throughout the play. Some scenes caused happiness, sadness, pity, fear and more.
The emotion of happiness came when Esther finally opened her business that she worked extremely hard for. Esther saved every penny she made from selling lingerie to both the high and low society to open a hair salon. The salon was mainly for African-American women, which was a good investment for Esther because the women barely had a place to go to be pampered. Seeing the way she struggled and actually accomplishing her dream brought nothing, but happiness. Especially with it being in the early 1900s, not many African-Americans, mainly women, had their own business. That shows that no matter what obstacles may stand in your way, goals can still be accomplished if the work is constantly put into it.
Even though Esther was a hard worker and accomplished her goal, there was one thing that was upsetting about her character. She did not know how to read nor write. Pity was felt more because Esther was 35 years old. She did not let that stop her though. She knew she needed to know how to do both and got one of her high society clients, Mrs. Van Buren, to help her. It was good that it did not take her long to learn how to do both which brought back happiness during the play.
Esther not being able to read nor write was not the only thing that was saddening. She was a lonely character. Esther has a hard time finding someone to love. It took her a while to finally realize she had a strong connection with the Jewish fabric salesman, Mr. Marks. Esther knew the relationship would be difficult due to his religion and her skin color. This caused the audience to be fearful because in the past, biracial relationships were not considered acceptable by some of the people. Something bad could have happened to the both of them for even wanting to pursue the relationship.
Overall, the play was very interesting to watch. The way a few of the scenes were set up made the audience feel as if they were a part of the scene as well. For an example, when Esther finally knew how to read and write, she wrote letters back and forth to one of the characters. While the character was reading letters from Esther, he faded in and out of the scene to show what she was envisioning while reading his letters. Even though the title of the play is Intimate Apparel and the protagonist makes intimate apparel for the women, the play is mainly about intimacy. The play was executed so well that the audience would still be thinking about Esther after the play is over.