INTIMATE APPAREL dp n="12" folio="" ?dp n="13" folio="" ?
was commissioned and first produced by South Coast Repertory (David Emmes, Producing Artistic Director; Martin Benson, Artistic Director; Paula Tomei, Managing Director) in Costa Mesa, California and CENTERSTAGE (Irene Lewis, Artistic Director; Michael Ross, Managing Director) in Baltimore, Maryland opening on April 18, 2003. It was directed by Kate Whoriskey; the set design was by Walt Spangler, the costume design was by Catherine Zuber, the lighting design was by Scott Zielinski, the sound design was by Lindsay Jones, the original music was by Reginald Robinson; the arranger and piano coach was William Foster McDaniel; the dramaturg was Jerry Patch and the stage manager was Randall K. Lum. The cast was as follows:
|MRS. DICKSON||Brenda Pressley|
|MRS. VAN BUREN||Sue Cremin|
|MR. MARKS||Steven Goldstein|
|GEORGE||Kevin Jackson|Intimate Apparel dp n="15" folio="" ?
was originally produced in New York City by the Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes, Artistic Director; Ellen Richard, Managing Director), opening on April 8, 2004. It was directed by Daniel Sullivan; the set design was by Derek McLane, the costume design was by Catherine Zuber, the lighting design was by Allen Lee Hughes, the sound design was by Marc Gwinn. Original music was by Harold Wheeler and the stage manager was Amy Patricia Stern. The cast was as follows:
|MRS. DICKSON||Lynda Grávatt|
|MRS. VAN BUREN||Arija Bareikis|
|MR. MARKS||Corey Stoll|
ESTHER, African American, thirty-five
MRS. DICKSON, African American, fifties
MRS. VAN BUREN, white, American, thirties
MR. MARKS, Romanian Orthodox Jewish immigrant, thirties
MAYME, African American, thirty
GEORGE, Barbadian immigrant, thirties
The set should be spare to allow for fluid movement between the var- ious bedrooms. The action should flow seamlessly from scene to scene. The act endings mark the only true blackouts in the play. dp n="16" folio="" ?dp n="17" folio="" ?
Wedding Corset: White Satin with Pink Roses
Lower Manhattan, 1905. A bedroom. It is simple, unadorned with the exception of beautifully embroidered curtains and a colorful, crazy quilt. A clumsy ragtime melody bleeds in from the parlor. In the distance the sound of laughter and general merriment. Esther, a rather plain thirty-five-year-old African American woman, sits at a sewing machine table, diligently trimming a camisole with lace. She is all focus and determination.
MRS. DICKSON (Offstage):
Don’t be fresh, Lionel. I know your mama since before the war.
(Mrs. Dickson, a handsome, impeccably groomed African American woman of fifty, enters laughing.)
There you are. Mr. Charles was admiring the bread pudding and I told him that our Esther made it. It seems he has a sweet tooth.
ESTHER: Mr. Charles is overly generous, come—the pudding ain’t nothing special. dp n="18" folio="8" ?
MRS. DICKSON: And did I mention that our most available Mr. Charles was promoted to head bellman at just about the finest hotel in New York? Yes.
ESTHER: But he still fetching luggage.
MRS. DICKSON: Not just any luggage, high-class luggage.
ESTHER: And is high-class luggage easier to carry?
MRS. DICKSON: I reckon it is easier to haul silk than cotton, if you know what I’m saying. (Laughs) And he sporting a right smart suit this evening.
ESTHER: Yes, it cashmere.
MRS. DICKSON: You can tell more about a man by where he shops, than his practiced conversation. ’Cause any man who’s had enough tonic can talk smooth, but not every man has the good sense to shop at—
ESTHER AND MRS. DICKSON: Saperstein’s.
(Esther laughs. Mrs. Dickson examines the embroidery on the camisole.)
MRS. DICKSON: Lovely.
ESTHER: It’s for Corinna Mae’s wedding night.
MRS. DICKSON: Don’t tell me you’ve been in here all evening? Corinna Mae is getting ready to leave with her fiance.
ESTHER: I wish I could find my party face. It really is a lovely affair. You done a fine job.
MRS. DICKSON: Come now, it ain’t over yet. Put aside your sewing and straighten yourself up. There. You’ll have a dance before this evening’s out.
ESTHER: Please, Mrs. Dickson, I can’t, really I’ll just stand there like a wallflower.
MRS. DICKSON: Nonsense, I’ve danced a half a dozen times, and my feet are just about worn out.
ESTHER: If I had your good looks I’d raise a bit of dust myself. Ain’t nobody down there interested in me.
MRS. DICKSON: Esther, you’re being silly. You’ve been moping around here for days. What’s the matter?
ESTHER: If you must know, I turned thirty-five Thursday past. dp n="19" folio="9" ?
MRS. DICKSON: Oh Lord, I forgot, child. I sure did. Look at that. With Corinna Mae carrying on and all these people, it slipped my mind. Happy birthday, my sweet Esther. (Gives Esther a big hug)
ESTHER: It’s fine. You had all this to prepare for. And I been living in this rooming house for so long, I reckon I’m just another piece of furniture.
MRS. DICKSON: Never. You were a godsend when you come to me at seventeen. Yes. I remember thinking how sweet and young you was with a sack full of overripe fruit, smelling like a Carolina orchard.
ESTHER: And now? Twenty-two girls later, if you count Lerleen. That’s how many of these parties I have had to go to and play merry. I should be happy for them, I know, but each time I think, Why ain’t it me? Silly Corinna Mae, ain’t got no brain at all, and just as plain as flour.
MRS. DICKSON: Your time will come, child.
ESTHER: What if it don’t? Listen to her laughing. God forgive me, but I hate her laughter, I hate her happiness. And I feel simply awful for saying so. And I’m afraid if I go back in there, she’ll see it all over my face—and it’s her day.
MRS. DICKSON: There are a number of young men open to your smile. A sour face don’t buy nothing but contempt. Why our Mr. Charles has had three servings of your bread pudding.
ESTHER: And he shouldn’t have had any. (Laughs) He weighs nearly as much as your horse.
MRS. DICKSON: Nonsense. He weighs more than poor Jessup. Shhh. He is a good man, poised for success. Yes.
ESTHER: But he’s been coming to these parties for near two years and if he ain’t met a woman, I’d bet it ain’t a woman he after. I’ve been warned about men in refined suits. But still, Esther would be lucky for his attention, that’s what you thinking. Well, I ain’t giving up so easy.
MRS. DICKSON: Good for you. But there are many a cautionary tale bred of overconfidence. When I met the late Mr. Dickson he was near sixty and I forgave his infatuation with the opiates, for he come with this rooming house and look how many good years it’s given me. Sure I cussed that damn pipe, and I cussed him for making me a widow, but sometimes we get to a point where we can’t be so particular.
ESTHER (Snaps): Well, I ain’t going down there to be paraded like some featherless bird.
I’m sorry, would you kindly take this down to Corinna Mae?
MRS. DICKSON: I’ll do no such thing. You can bring it down yourself. (Starts for the door, then abruptly stops) It tough, Esther, for a colored woman in this city. I ain’t got to tell you that. You nimble with your fingers, but all Corinna Mae got be her honey-colored skin. And you good and smart and deserve all the attention in that room, but today’s her day and all I ask is that you come toast her as I know she’d toast you. Put aside your feelings—...