Are you ready, Ashland? | SWEAT by Lynn Nottage is coming in HOT at Oregon Shakespeare Festival

A new American play is coming for you.  SWEAT by Lynn Nottage.  Photo: Jenny Graham.
A new American play is coming for you. SWEAT by Lynn Nottage. Photo: Jenny Graham.

Y’all ready to sweat a little, Ashland, Oregon? I hope so. Because it’s going to be hotter than hell in the Rogue Valley on Wednesday. And I’m not talking about the weather.

That’s right. Even though the forecast is calling for 104, there’s going to be something even hotter than that going on beneath the glare of the mid day fire ball on the Bricks in downtown Ashland tomorrow. And that’s the first preview of the world premiere of SWEAT by Lynn Nottage in the Angus Bowmer Theatre at 1:30 PM.

Despite the temperature, just writing that last sentence there sends a cold sweat down my back. Hoo boy. If I could rub Aladdin’s lamp and be granted one wish to be anywhere on earth in any theatre there is seeing any show imaginable tomorrow – I’d be right here in Ashland. No question.

If you’re a theatre fan, and especially if you’re an Oregon theatre fan, there is simply nowhere else to be on Wednesday. Or Friday and Saturday for the next two previews. Or Sunday for the official opening. Or anytime during the next three months as SWEAT runs in rep at OSF.

A new play by one of America’s leading playwrights at one of America’s (and the world’s) great theatres – which just happens to be right here in Oregon? Hello?? That’s like a Ducks game in Autzen Stadium or Sleater-Kinney at the Crystal Ballroom or the Pendleton Roundup on Saturday night (including a bonus visit to the Let’Er Buck Room). It’s BIG stuff. The biggest. In the American theatre today, it doesn’t get much more exciting than a new play by Lynn Nottage.

Especially this play. In this place. At this time.

The latest from OSF’s flagship American Revolutions commissioning program, SWEAT is coming in hotter than a blast furnace at Bethlehem Steel. Written by Nottage and directed by Kate Whoriskey, the show features a galaxy of OSF talent. Here, feast those heat-dazed eyes of yours on this lineup:

Cast for SWEAT

Tracey >> Terri McMahon
Jason >> Stephen Michael Spencer
Cynthia >> Kimberly Scott
Chris >> Tramell Tillman
Brucie >> Kevin Kenerly
Evan >> Tyrone Wilson
Stan >> Jack Willis
Jessie >> K. T. Vogt
Oscar >> Carlo Albán

Whaaaaaaaaaat?? Yeah – see? You with me? If I didn’t have your attention before, surely I do now.

I don’t know about you, but I’d be pretty happy to just sit in the audience and see that group walk out on stage and stand there and do nothing. But they’re going to do a lot more than that. It sounds like their task is nothing less than acting out a new story of and for our time.

If the past is prologue, look for this show to sell out once the news hits the wire. Remember what happened to ALL THE WAY and THE GREAT SOCIETY? While there will be other chances to see SWEAT at other theatres later on – no production is ever going to be better than this original one on the home field.

It’s only on for three months as it is. Only a few thousand people can see it.

And you definitely want to be one of them.

So buckle down, Ashland. And get ready. Maybe bring a fan or an ice cube or something.

Because the drama is coming. And it’s going to be hot stuff indeed.

Hot stuff.  SWEAT by Lynn Nottage runs July 29 - October 31 in the Bowmer Theatre at OSF.
Hot stuff. SWEAT by Lynn Nottage runs July 29 – October 31 in the Bowmer Theatre at OSF.