Mariemont Players and director Derek Snow announce auditions for our January, 2022 production of INTIMATE APPAREL by Lynn Nottage. Directed by Derek Snow.
- Dates: Monday, August 30 and Tuesday, August 31
- Time: 6:30-9:00 p.m.
- Location: Mariemont Players, Walton Creek Theater, 4101 Walton Creek Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45227
- Sign up for your audition timeslot here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0d4caca92aa4f49-intimate
- Auditions will consist of cold reads from the script. For copies of the sides and monologues ahead of time, please contact director Derek Snow at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Performance Dates: January 7-23, 2022
The time is 1905, the place New York City, where Esther, a black seamstress, lives in a boarding house for women and sews intimate apparel for clients who range from wealthy white patrons to prostitutes. Her skills and discretion are much in demand, and she has managed to stuff a goodly sum of money into her quilt over the years. One by one, the other denizens of the boarding house marry and move away, but Esther remains, lonely and longing for a husband and a future. Her plan is to find the right man and use the money she’s saved to open a beauty parlor where black women will be treated as royally as the white women she sews for. By way of a mutual acquaintance, she begins to receive beautiful letters from a lonesome Caribbean man named George who is working on the Panama Canal. Being illiterate, Esther has one of her patrons respond to the letters, and over time the correspondence becomes increasingly intimate until George persuades her that they should marry, sight unseen. Meanwhile, Esther’s heart seems to lie with the Hasidic shopkeeper from whom she buys cloth, and his heart with her, but the impossibility of the match is obvious to them both, and Esther consents to marry George. When George arrives in New York, however, he turns out not to be the man his letters painted him to be, and he absconds with Esther’s savings, frittering it away on whores and liquor. Deeply wounded by the betrayal, but somehow unbroken, Esther returns to the boarding house determined to use her gifted hands and her sewing machine to refashion her dreams and make them anew from the whole cloth of her life’s experiences.
Esther (35, African-American)
Esther is the protagonist of the play. She is a young African American woman who has come to New York in search of her dreams; she dreams of an independent life and she dreams of opening up her own beauty parlor for black women. She intends to use her skills as a seamstress to save enough money to achieve this. She is such a gifted seamstress that her skills are in high and constant demand. She sews intimate apparel for a diverse group of clients, from the upper class Upper East Side women who lunch to prostitutes.
Esther enjoys her life but she cannot help yearning for love, especially when she sees the other women in the boarding house where she lives leaving to get married. Because she is starting to feel that she is getting left on the shelf she finds herself vulnerable to the attentions of George, a man she knows only through letters. She is charmed by George’s romantic, flowery writing and the things that he tells her. Although she is not in love with him, she believes that one day she might be.
George (30’s, African-American, has a distinct Barbadian accent – actor will work with a dialect coach during rehearsal period)
George is at first a wonderful man; he woos Esther so gently that she cannot help but be struck by him. He writes romantic, flowery letters that make her develop a real affection for him, and he appears to be falling for her too. Although they have never met, George convinces Esther that they should marry, and waste no more time alone.
George turns into a completely different person when he gets to New York – or perhaps he reverts back to type. He is a swindler; he steals Esther’s money from its hiding place in the quilt and he spends it all on prostitutes, gambling, and liquor. George is the catalyst for all of the changes in Esther’s life, and most of these changes are not good ones.
Mayme (30’s, African-American)
One of Esther’s customers, a black sex worker. She is close friends with Esther (despite Esther’s disapproval of Mayme’s career), and they tell each other about their hopes and dreams. Originally, Mayme came to New York with the hope of making a living off of playing ragtime piano, but she now realizes that that isn’t pragmatic. However, she doesn’t care much for her current line of work, especially when clients are too rough/handsy with her. When George comes to town, her belief in romance is restored, as he is kind and gentle towards her, something unheard of for her. However, when Esther tells Mayme that George is her husband, Mayme is once again disillusioned, and when Esther lets him go, Mayme does the same.
Mrs. Van Buren (mid-late 30’s)
A wealthy and white client of Esther’s who is in her 30s. Although she is very wealthy, Mrs. Van Buren is lonely and insecure. She and her husband have been unable to conceive a child, and she constantly flips between wearing sexy undergarments to fire up his attraction and being overjoyed when he is gone for a long period of time. Mrs. Van Buren sees Esther’s lifestyle as exotic and everything she (Mrs. Van Buren) could want, especially when Esther starts writing letters to George. Esther is illiterate, so when Esther asks Mrs. Van Buren to write, she finds them the perfect distraction from her life.
Mr. Marks (30’s)
Mr. Marks is deeply religious and committed to the traditions of his family and culture. He is an Orthodox Romanian Jewish man. Yet his greatest delight comes from Esther’s visits. They share a sensuous pleasure in beautiful fabrics and a fascination with the history of those fabrics. They also share a love of their individual faiths and a desire to do what will bring pleasure to others. Over the course of the play, Mr. Marks’ adherence to the strictest rules of his religion and traditions weakens as his love for Esther grows. Their love is revealed in small gestures with great meaning.
Mrs. Dickson (50’s, African-American)
The stern older woman who owns the boarding house where Esther lives. Mrs. Dickson is proper and well to do, and for a widowed black woman, she’s doing extremely well for herself. She came into these fortunate circumstances after her husband died, leaving her the boardinghouse. She is maternal and stern, but also carries a hint of true affection for Esther and the other occupants of the boarding house.