by Sarah Renko, 4th year BS in Dance
If you are not familiar with the play Sweat, I will give you the run down here. Sweat takes place in a city called Reading, Pennsylvania. It is a play that delves into the lives of American workers inside a factory. These workers are taking on the jobs that their family before them did, when suddenly everything changes. Their steady jobs are now being moved across the border under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
While taking the time to research this play, of which I had never heard of before, I began to connect this play with the similar conditions in the city of Detroit. I realized that this was a play that showed the real life problems of American labor jobs. Not only did I start to think about how Sweat was clearly a non-fictional story, but I began to dive into how this could be a play that many people could relate to.
This past January, I attended a march in Downtown Detroit in front of the TCF Center. This was a march for the Green New Deal, occurring right after the shut down of the GM plant in Hamtramck. This was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Having the opportunity to be present for such an event really had an effect on me. I saw firsthand the fear, anger, and many more emotions that came along with having that promise of a job to be stolen from you. The grounds were filled with people. Some were workers, some just supporters, but they were all fighting for the same thing. They fought back for the jobs that were going to be taken away from many people. I remember thinking about how deeply it affected me and I didn’t have anybody who was working at that plant just because of the energy that filled the air. I just thought about how I would feel if the life that you were so used to was going to be completely turned around and there was nothing you could do. I know that this march was not just for this one plant closing. I now realize that it was an example of the disappointment and the let down in American Labor jobs. That is why as soon as I became familiar with Sweat, I understood right away that Lynn Nottage was in fact, writing about the stories of American workers who have lived through it.
There is no better place for Sweat to be put on other than the city of Detroit. It is truly a play that will pull you into the lives of real working people, including the hardship and downs that come along with it. I know while getting the chance to read it, it did just that for me.