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FTT presents ‘Intimate Apparel’ at DPAC

Claire Stephens | Wednesday, April 17, 2013


The Film, Television and Theater Department’s spring production, “Intimate Apparel,” opened yesterday at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. The play features Esther Mills, an African-American seamstress in Lower Manhattan in 1905, who painstakingly crafts delicate undergarments for clientele ranging from young brides to wealthy matrons to ladies of the night. As Esther yearns to escape her life of drudgery and loneliness, letters from a distant admirer offer the promise of love and a future.

Playing the role of Esther is junior FTT student Zuri Eshun, who says that there is more to Esther than just needle and thread.

“Everything the audience will discover about Esther will happen as her journey unfolds onstage,” Eshun said.

This is Eshun’s first main stage production, and she looked to director Kevin Dreyer to help her find the character and find herself in the character.

“For me getting into character was rather difficult. Though Esther and I share the same race, she was living a completely different life than I am, or so I thought,” said Eshun. “As I discovered more about her mannerisms and her thought process, it became easier to fuse myself with her character. I even learned a few things about myself I didn’t know before taking on this role.”

Dreyer, an associate FTT professor, said that “Intimate Apparel,” by American playwright Lynn Nottage, was chosen because of its themes and writing. 

“When we create a season, we consider a wide variety of titles and usually pick a genre or type of play that we want to do and then come up with a half dozen or so titles that match that,” Dreyer said. 

“‘Intimate Apparel’ was one of a few titles we looked at that would allow us to have strong roles for performers of color, something we have not been good at as a department.  In this case, once ‘Intimate Apparel’ came up it rose to the top of the list very quickly,” Dreyer said.

The production includes the efforts and talents of students, including junior Biological Studies major Patrick Fagan, the lighting designer for the play.

“‘Intimate Apparel’ is a unique show that deals with race, self-discovery and romance through various relationships. 

The dialogue and character interactions are the main focus of this piece and therefore I aimed to enhance these aspects of the show with the lighting,” Fagan said. “As the lighting designer, it was my job to capture the lives of the characters and let them tell their story.”

Sam Schubert, a junior FTT major, is the stage manager for the play, and has been involved from the beginning with auditions, rehearsals and finally running the show.

“While I have vastly enjoyed watching all my actors grow into their current characters, I love seeing the finished product,” Schubert said. “This is when it all comes together and everything I have had a hand in is put on stage for the performance.”

“Intimate Apparel” performances are in the Decio Mainstage Theater at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $7-$15 and can be purchased at the DPAC box office. Call 574-631-2800 or visit performingarts.nd.edu.

Contact Claire Stephens at cstephe4@nd.edu