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Broadway's Sweat Inspires Multimedia Art Installation This Is Reading

Lynn Nottage's new play about economic hardship in Reading, Pennsylvania opens at Studio 54 next month.

Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage is creating an art installation in conjunction with her new Broadway play Sweat.
(© David Gordon)

Starting this May, This Is Reading, a site-specific multimedia installation blending live performance and visual media, will occupy the historic Franklin Street Railroad Station in Downtown Reading, Pennsylvania, reanimating the long vacant building.

The installation's foundation will be the hardships, challenges, and triumphs of people living in and around Reading, Pennsylvania. This Is Reading will weave their individual stories into one cohesive and compelling tale of the city. The project is inspired by the relationship Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nottage forged with the people of Reading while researching her play Sweat, which comes to Broadway this spring under the direction of Kate Whoriskey.

Sweat, which was co-commissioned by Arena Stage and Oregon Shakespeare Festival followed by an off-Broadway debut at the Public Theater, begins performances at Broadway's Studio 54 on March 4 in advance of a March 26 opening. The play is Nottage's response to a 2011 New York Times article that named Reading as the poorest city in America. It tells the story of a group of friends who have spent their lives sharing drinks, secrets, and laughs while working together on the line of a factory floor. But when layoffs and picket lines begin to chip away at their trust, the friends find themselves pitted against one another in the hard fight to stay afloat.

This Is Reading will be created by an award-winning team of artists, including Nottage, Whoriskey, filmmaker Tony Gerber, projection designer Jeff Sugg, set designer Christine Jones, and producers Jane M. Saks, Blake Ashman-Kipervaser, and Allison Bressi.

"Residents of Reading speak about themselves in the past tense," says Nottage. "I want to explore how this city is taking steps to reimagine itself in the present tense."

For tickets to Sweat, click here.