Share Tweet Share Email

A seamstress, a spinster

February 7, 2014

A photo of sewing suppliesNIU’s School of Theatre and Dance will present “Intimate Apparel” by award winning playwright Lynne Nottage.

The play runs Thursday, Feb. 13, through Sunday, Feb. 16, in the Holmes Student Center Diversion Lounge on the NIU campus. Performances will start at 7:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Set in 1905 New York, “Intimate Apparel” examines ideas of love, sacrifice and the breaking of conventions at the turn of the last century.

Central character Esther Mills is a shy African-American seamstress, living in a boarding house for women and making a comfortable living creating intimate apparel for a wide range of clients, including characters from the historic Tenderloin District, Lower East Side tenements and high-class Fifth Avenue.

As her fellow boarders come and go, she longs to have a husband and a future. Though she has strong feelings for the Hasidic shopkeeper from whom she buys cloth, they both know a relationship is impossible.

Even though the play is set in the early 1900s, director Kay Martinovich said the play is all about empowerment.

“The thing that strikes me most,” she says, “is the idea of a woman having choices in her life and feeling like she doesn’t – and by the end of the play, she realizes that she does have choices about how she wants to be in the world.”

Martinovich said that in her vision of the play, she explores forbidden love and the difference between romantic and sexual relationships.

As a visiting assistant professor and professional director, this is her directorial debut with NIU students. She believes the production is unique.

“This is a student production. It’s all undergraduate. But I never feel that.”

General admission tickets are $6. Tickets and more information are available by contacting the NIU School of Theatre and Dance box office at (815) 753-1600.