Lynn Nottages’ award winning play was based on interviews with the community in Reading Pensylvania, whose livelihoods were devasted when the plant closed. The play is a an excoriating look at the lives of eight characters, and explores how under Bush, unionised workers who had worked their whole adult lives there, were shut out of the plant, and lost their jobs, and casualised workers, brought in to replace them. It looks at shame, and the impact in terms of drug abuse, broken friendships, broken marriages, violent racist attack and uncontrolled rage of the unemployed young men. It gives a clear idea of why so many voted for Trump and his America First slogan. I highly recommend it and was deeply affected by it .
some of the things that inspired me about it and made me feel renewed enthusiasm for writing :
I had the feeling that she had something urgent to explore and she did this through fully rounded characters who seemed real. Each of eight characters changed from beginning to end and in relation to each other.
Back story, or exposition is revealed through dialogue .
There is unity of place – the bar – and Nottage cleverly marks passage of time through birthdays of the characters, all celebrated at the bar, costumes to show weather and season changes. Above all the rusted rafters and hooks of a rusted out plant hover over the set.
So what is it that we urgently want to explore? Is research needed? Don’t be afraid of this, I believe. In many cases it is necessary. And how might characters both serve the plot but also live in their own right?