Esther leads a lonely life. A black seamstress in a Manhattan boarding house in the 1900s, she sews intimate apparel for clients and watches as, one by one, the other occupants of the boarding house get married and move out.
Such is the existence of the central character in Intimate Apparel, a play the University Theatre Players will put on at the University of South Carolina Aiken’s Etherredge Center at 7:30 p.m. April 18-21 and 2 p.m. April 22.
Written by Lynn Nottage and directed by the nationally recognized Dewey Scott-Wiley, the play combines romance and responsibility, telling a compelling tale that is intended to leave the audience begging for more.
Sydney Fowler, a 19-year-old USC Aiken freshman, plays Esther. It’s her first lead role in a USC Aiken production.
“I love the challenges I face every day at practice because the role of Esther has taught me so much,” she said. “I’ve learned new techniques on how to capture the audience’s emotions, how to develop a stronger connection, and so many more things.”
Lauren Jenkins, a 23-year-old sophomore at USC Aiken, said she is elated about the role she has in the play.
“I really love Mrs. Van Buren’s part because it’s really different from any part that I’ve ever played,” she said. “It’s letting me explore different dimensions of acting, allowing me to get into someone else’s shoes.”
As Esther watches the other occupants move out, she remains in the boarding house. She yearns for not only a husband, but a future. Though her heart is set on the shopkeeper, she starts to receive beautiful letters from a man who works on the Panama Canal. Though her life seems hopeless, by the end, she manages to find joy.
“Since I was young, theater has always been a passion of mine,” Fowler said. “Theater because it’s not just about acting, it’s about being involved with every play at USCA because I love theater, and will do anything I can to be involved.”
Jenkins said the play will make audience members think differently.
“It’s one of those plays that will make you sit there and think about some things that were never brought to your attention,” she said. “Human interaction is definitely something focused on in this play.”
Fowler said even though Intimate Apparel is written for an older audience, everyone can learn something from it.
“Because the play brings focus onto several different relationships, I believe that everyone can learn something,” she said. “The audience will appreciate Esther’s journey.”
Tickets for Intimate Apparel are $15 general admission, $12 seniors, $7 students. Learn more by calling (803) 641-3305, or visiting http://web.usca.edu/etherredge-center/university-theatre.dot.