by Lynn Nottage

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Sweat Characters

The main characters in Sweat are Tracey, Cynthia, Jason, and Chris.

  • Tracey is a white forty-year-old factory worker who becomes jealous when her close friend Cynthia receives a promotion; the factory plans to cut Tracey’s wages.
  • Cynthia is an African American factory worker at the plant and friends with Tracey and Jessie. She receives a promotion and becomes a manager, while her son is laid off and her friends’ wages cut.
  • Jason and Chris are friends and the sons of Tracey and Cynthia. They lose their jobs at the factory, get in a fight at the bar, and are incarcerated.


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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The characters in Sweat by Lynn Nottage are blue-collar Americans in the town of Reading, Pennsylvania, in the years 2000 and 2008.


Tracey is white, in her forties, and of German descent. Opinionated and proud of the work her family has done, she has been working at Olstead’s factory for over twenty years, following her father and grandfather. She is best friends with Cynthia until she feels betrayed by Cynthia after the latter’s promotion. Though she claims to not care about race, Tracey sometimes makes racially insensitive comments. She is Jason’s mother.


Cynthia is Black and in her forties, and she has been working at the plant as long as Tracey has. She is ambitious and applies for the promotion that moves her up to a managerial position. This puts Cynthia in a difficult spot when management wants to cut wages and Cynthia finds herself pitted against her friends.


Jessie is white and friends with Tracey and Cynthia. She struggles with alcohol addiction, always drinking much more than the others at the bar. When she was young, she wanted to travel the world, but she ended up getting a job at the plant and has never left.


Jason is Tracey’s son, who is in his twenties. He is outgoing and often teases his best friend, Chris. His anger at losing his job at the factory causes him to get into a fight with violent consequences. In jail, Jason becomes a white supremacist.


Chris is Cynthia’s son and Jason’s friend; like Jason, he is in his twenties. He works at the factory but has aspirations to go to college. He is saving up money for school when the strike happens and he becomes involved in a fight with Jason that lands him in jail.


Brucie is Chris’s father and Cynthia’s estranged husband. He has fallen on hard times and becomes involved with drugs, although he starts a rehab program. It is revealed that his addiction issues are related to his being fired from his factory job after his union was pushed out.


Stan is a former steel worker who became a bartender after getting injured at the plant. He is white, in his fifties, and friendly. Stan tries to break up the fight between Jason and Oscar and unfortunately suffers a brain injury while doing so.


Oscar is a Colombian American man who works at the bar. Always considered an outsider and not afforded many job opportunities, he crosses the picket line when the plant offers more than what he makes at the bar. This causes a fight with Jason. By 2008, he has become the manager of the bar and takes care of Stan.


Evan is Chris and Jason’s parole officer in 2008, when they get out of prison. He helps the two young men confront their feelings about what happened. Evan, who is Black, can be forceful in drawing forth information and is unflappable in the face of Jason’s racist remarks.

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