by Lynn Nottage

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How is Sweat structured around credibility?

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Sweat does its best to realistically portray what factory life and the people working in factories were like in the year 2000 through setting, dialogue, and situation. All of these factors help build credibility in this social realist play.

The play, as eNotes points out, is set in Reading, Pennsylvania because that was at the time the poorest town of its size in the United States. The setting within Reading, a bar, is a place factory workers really would congregate. Within the bar, real life news intrudes, such as acts of the Bush administration and reports of shootings.

The dialogue, too, is realistic. For example, in discussing the opening of a job in management, two long-time workers have the following conversation:

Tracey: Well, I got you beat by two. Started in '74, walked in straight outta high school. First and only job. Management is for them. Not for us.

Cynthia: More money. More heat. More vacation. Less work. That's all I need to know.

Seniority would be important to these two women, as that is what is rewarded by the union system. We see Tracey, too, use such realistic examples of dialect as "outta" instead of the more formal "out of" while Cynthia uses a staccato rhythm of sentence fragments to make her point about why a management position is desirable. Tracey also says that management is "not for us," as realistic portrayal of a working-class mentality that tries not to be too aspirational.

The situations in the play are also portrayed in a credible way: the racial tensions that arise when a Black person is promoted, management moving jobs to Mexico, and the reactions of management when the workers go on strike to protest wage cuts.

In a more Romantic version of a play, heroics, a happy ending, perhaps a merger of sympathy between workers and management, or more worker solidarity might be present, but Nottage wishes to show the reality of how economics tears people apart.

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