Analysis

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 468

Lynn Notage won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Sweat. Concerned with events in the early 21st century, the play nonetheless retains some elements of realism. A notable departure is the use of two time periods, which forces the reader to guess at the reasons for events that occur in the later period but are presented first. Nottage emphasizes that the play is intended to be performed, initially through some notes about how the dialogue should be spoken. These indications reflect the slice of life approach of the characters’s interactions, many of which occur in a neighborhood bar. Some of the dialogue is overlapping, the way people actually speak. She also recommends that the dialogue be spoken with

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the free-flowing velocity of a bar conversation: people step on each other’s thoughts, but also occasionally find moments of silence and introspection.

Those silent, introspective moments are key to the play’s plausibility, as the specific events the characters are living through and the difficult period overall encourage both action and contemplation.

Nottage tells the interacting stories of numerous characters from several families in distinct scenes, often presenting the characters with little or no context so that the reader must figure out for themself what prior events they are referring to and what their relationship is with that other character. As the play opens, she takes this approach with Jason and Chris, as each of them separately speaks with their mutual parole officer, Evan. Their separate scenes with him, which cover the same ground, independently tell the story of their earlier friendship and offer hints at the charges that landed them in jail, from which they both have recently been released. This type of structure creates dramatic tension and keeps the audience’s interest.

In the scenes...

(The entire section contains 468 words.)

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