For one night and one night only Broadway came to Macomb County. In front of a sold out crowd at the Macomb County Family Resource Center, actors from the Mobile Unit of the Public Theater of New York put on a performance of “Sweat.” Those lucky enough to get tickets were treated to an honest and timely rendition of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony Award-nominated play, which tells the story of a group of friends who have spent their lives sharing drinks, secrets and laughs while working together on a factory floor. However, when layoffs and picket lines begin to chip away at their trust, the friends find themselves pitted against each other in the hard fight to stay afloat.
The performance, which was hosted by OneMacomb, sparked more than just applause. Following the curtain call, a community conversation moderated by the Theater was held where attendees discussed racism, the pros and cons of unions, drugs and alcohol, the importance of voting and being educated on candidates and how the play’s content was relatable for local residents.
This type of interaction was the goal of OneMacomb, which works to promote multiculturalism and inclusion through arts and community affairs.
“The attendees were so engaged with the play and in the conversation afterwards,” said Deputy County Executive Pam Lavers. “I am so proud to be able to provide local access to the arts and look forward to creating future opportunities for our community.”
It was also the goal of the Public Theater. Its Macomb County performance was a part of a Midwest tour that will visit 18 cities across Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Wisconsin over a four week period. Lynn Nottage explained why the group took their show on the road in a recent statement.
“Sweat tells the story of Reading, Pa., but it could be any post-industrial city across the landscape,” she said. “One of the beautiful things about what we’re trying to do with the Mobile Unit National Tour is to link narratives and bring people not just in the communities into dialogue, but people across communities into dialogue and figure out how can we strategize and shift the national conversation.”
Through their Macomb County performance, the actors certainly achieved this objective.
**The Public Theater has invited residents of Macomb County to participate in PUBLIC RECORD, a digital storytelling platform that captures responses from audiences and communities in New York and on the road. They hope that you will take a few minutes to share an anonymous story, and also listen to what others have had to say. Click here to get started.
Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.