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MCLA Theatre to Present “Intimate Apparel” Beginning April 1

NORTH ADAMS, MA—The Theatre Program at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts will present “Intimate Apparel,” a delicate play about a fiercely resilient Black woman during the dawn of the 20th century, in person at MCLA’s Venable Theater, beginning Friday, April 1, 2022, through Sunday, April 10, 2022.


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Written by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, “Intimate Apparel” was the winner of the 2004 Steinberg New Play Award, New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, and Outer Critics Circle Award is directed by Berkshire native and co-founder of the Berkshire Fringe, Sara Katzoff.


The show follows Esther Mills, a Black seamstress who supports herself by sewing beautiful corsets and women’s undergarments. Set in Lower Manhattan in 1905 at the very cusp of the Great Migration, the play shows a Black woman taking control of her life during a time when tens of thousands of Black folks were making their journey to New York City from the American South and tens of thousands of immigrants were passing through Ellis Island from Europe.


Esther sews for clients ranging from prostitutes to wealthy debutantes and quietly dreams of opening a beauty parlor to give the Black women of her community the royal treatment she sees her white clients enjoy. A warm affection develops between the Orthodox Jewish man who sells her fabric, but any relationship between them is strictly forbidden. When she receives a romantic letter from a mysterious Caribbean suitor, her life changes. Ultimately, she realizes that only through her own self-determination will she be able to refashion a new life for herself.


Based on the life of her grandmother, playwright Lynn Nottage described her creative process as “searching for this woman who was part of the fabric of my life, but who was very much a mystery to me.”


Katzoff writes, “We see her hope, ambitions, and dreams during a time in history where Black women are rarely recognized as being entrepreneurs. By writing this play, Nottage has remade a vital tapestry of her own lineage. Through Esther Mill’s craftsmanship and discretion as a seamstress, she becomes a ‘thread’ weaving a rich tapestry of the ‘thousands of tiny stitches’ of the immigrant and migrant American experience.” She says that “Although Esther’s own thread is one of longing and heartbreak, her story is ultimately one of hope, agency and resilience.”


Intimate Apparel features a talented cast of students from MCLA’s award-winning Theatre Program. Zurie Adams (Esther), Abby Daggett (Mrs. Van Buren), and Comfort Amcheampong (Mrs. Dickson), alongside Sajaira Hudson (Mayme), John Archer-Harvey (George), and introducing Ahmed Reda (Mr. Marks). The creative team includes Jeremy Winchester (Set Designer), Michaela Petrovich (Costume Designer), Anthony Simon (Lighting Designer), James W. Bilnoski (Technical Director), Aedan Maginnis (Stage

Manager), Nadia Frye Leinhos (Dramaturge), and Laura Standley (Intimacy Director/Dialect Coach).


About the MCLA Theatre Program 

The Theatre Program at MCLA develops innovative theatre artists prepared for careers in theatre and graduate study. In the intimate, culturally rich setting of the Berkshires, students hone their craft through intensive studio training and hands-on experience, within the context of their broader liberal arts education. Opportunities for practical experience abound, from courses in acting, directing, design and production to working alongside a faculty of talented professionals in our award-winning production season. On stage and in the classroom, theatre students at MCLA make theatre of the highest quality, as they explore the rich tradition of this unique, multi-disciplinary art form.


About MCLA: 

At MCLA, we’re here for all — and focused on each — of our students. Classes are taught by educators who care deeply about teaching, and about seeing their students thrive on every level of their lives. In nearly every way possible, the experience at MCLA is designed to elevate our students as individuals, as leaders, communicators, fully empowered to make their impressions on the world. In addition to our 127-year commitment to public education, we have fortified our commitment to equitable academic excellence. For nine of the last 11 years, MCLA has been named a Top Ten College by U.S. News and World Report. MCLA also appears on the organization’s list of top National Public Liberal Arts Colleges. Since the list was created, MCLA has risen to #21 as a Top Performer on Social Mobility and ranks first among all Massachusetts schools, which measures how well schools graduate students who receive Federal Pell Grants.


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