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Intimate Apparel Comes to UCR

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The Department of Theatre at the University of California, Riverside, is pleased to present INTIMATE APPAREL, a play by Lynn Nottage.

“Intimate Apparel is a deceptively simple play about a seamstress [in the early 1900s] who sews intimate apparel for prostitutes, and for ladies on Fifth Avenue. I had spent about a year and a half at the New York Public Library researching the play, trying to discover the textures of 1905 and to be true to that. And in that process of writing, I tried to capture as much of the essence of the time as possible.

It’s an exploration of race and class in America. And desire and hope.”

“I had a great-grandmother who was a very talented seamstress. She specialized in creating intimate apparel for ladies. I was always fascinated by that this very religious women creating kinky lingerie. The story is simple. The play begins with a woman, Esther, who sews intimate apparel. She connects with many people in her life, but has no intimacy.

She very much wants to touch someone—and I don’t mean physically, I mean emotionally and spiritually. And she finds it in this person named George Armstrong, a laborer in the Panama Canal who is very lonely.

They begin corresponding. Neither of them reads or writes, so they go outside themselves to help create illusions of who they are, to connect.”

“I think that the African-American woman’s voice is important because it is part of the American voice. But you would not know that by looking at TV or films. You would think that we do not exist. And part of my mission as a writer is to say, “I do exist. My mother existed, and my grandmother existed, and my great-grandmother existed, and they had stories that are rich, complicated, funny, that are beautiful and essential.” And the stories have become the myth of America.

There are folk tales brought over from Africa that find, many years later, they are on television as Bugs Bunny. I want people to know that my story, that of the African-American woman, is also the American story.”

The play is directed by Kathrn Earvin. It will be performed January 21st through January 30th. For tickets and information, contact (951) 827-4331.

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