Intimate Apparel

By Lynn Nottage

Directed By Michael Mendelson

September 9, 2014 – October 5, 2014

Alder Stage

Set in 1905 NYC, this riveting tale is about the empowerment of Esther, an African American seamstress who creates exquisite lingerie for Fifth Avenue boudoirs and red-light brothels. As she yearns for a different life, she finds unconventional friendships with clients that defy race, religion and class. Artists Rep kicks off the 2014/15 season with the long-awaited Portland debut of this award-winning, Off-Broadway and regional theatre sensation by a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright.

  • Portland Premiere
  • Designs by Resident Artists Mary McDonald-Lewis & Rodolfo Ortega 

RUNNING TIME: Approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes plus one intermission




"...dreamy and vigorous, thoughtful yet rife with action. - Holly Johnsons for The Oregonian. Read the full review here

“I love it. It’s beautifully acted and beautifully done." - Audience Member

"you keep leaning forward in your chair, wanting to know more. ... Intimate Apparel is a small, beautiful story told well, without embellishment. How I wish more theatre artists would learn from this example." - Patrick Brassell, Broadway World. Read the full review here

“Best show I have seen in a long time.” - Audience Member

“… a triumph with a stellar cast ... must-see season opener.” - Nathan Tucker, Portland Monthly Magazine. Read it here.

“What an incredible way to start the season!” - Audience Member

"Nottage's play has a delicacy and eloquence that seem absolutely right for the time she is depicting…New York has no richer play…" —NY Daily News.

"…thoughtful, affecting…The play offers poignant commentary on an era when the cut and color of one's dress—and of course, skin—determined whom one could and could not marry, sleep with, even talk to in public." —Variety.

"Ms. Nottage has done so much good historical research…I want Ms. Nottage to keep working with this form; we see it so little, and we need it so much." —NY Times.

"…a near-perfect balance between content and execution…" —Associated Press.


Intimate Apparel was first commissioned and produced by South Coast Repertory and Center Stage in Costa Mesa, California in 2003. The cast featured Shané Williams (Esther), Brenda Pressley (Mrs. Dickson), Sue Cremin (Mrs. Van Buren), Steven Goldstein (Mr. Marks), Erica Gimpel (Mayme) and Kevin Jackson (George). It was directed by Kate Whoriskey. The play was then produced off-Broadway at Roundabout Theatre in New York, opening on April 8, 2004. It was directed by Daniel Sullivan and featured cast members Viola Davis, Lynda Gravatt, Arija Bareikis, Corey Stoll, Lauren Velez, and Russell Hornsby. In the years following, numerous regional theatres picked up Intimate Apparel  including: Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, Southern Repertory Theatre in New Orleans, Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, City Theatre in Pittsburgh and Actors Theatre of Louisville. The play made a splash in 2004, sweeping up the Steinberg New Play Award and also various awards such as the Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards.   


Lynn Nottage is a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter.Her plays have been produced widely in the United States and throughout the world. They include By The Way, Meet Vera Stark (Lily Award, Drama Desk Nomination); Ruined (Pulitzer Prize, OBIE, Lucille Lortel, New York Drama Critics’ Circle, Audelco, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Award); Intimate Apparel (American Theatre Critics, New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards for Best Play); Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine (OBIE Award); Crumbs from the Table of Joy, Las Meninas, Mud, River, Stone,  Por’knockers and POOF!.  She is currently developing a new play and multimedia performance installation based on two years of research and interviews conducted in Reading, PA (with Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Arena Stage & Labyrinth Theatre Company). In addition, she is working with composer Ricky Ian Gordon on adapting her play Intimate Apparel into an opera (commissioned by The Met/LCT). She is the co-founder of the production company, Market Road Films, whose most recent projects include The Notorious Mr. Bout directed by Tony Gerber and Maxim Pozdorovkin (Premiere/Sundance 2014); First to Fall directed by Rachel Beth Anderson (Premiere/ IDFA, 2013) and Remote Control (Premiere/Busan 2013- New Currents Award). Over the years, she has developed original projects for HBO, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Showtime, This is That and Harpo. Nottage is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship, Steinberg “Mimi” Distinguished Playwright Award, the Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award, the inaugural Horton Foote Prize, Helen Hayes Award, the Lee Reynolds Award and the Jewish World Watch iWitness Award. Her other honors include the National Black Theatre Fest's August Wilson Playwriting Award, a Guggenheim Grant, PEN/Laura Pels Award, Lucille Lortel Fellowship and Visiting Research Fellowship at Princeton University. She is a graduate of Brown University and the Yale School of Drama, where she has been a faculty member since 2001. She is also teaching graduate playwriting at Columbia School of the Arts.


Michael Mendelson is classically trained and is well known in the Portland theatre community as an actor, director and teacher. He is an Artistic Associate and Resident Artist at Artists Repertory Theatre and a member of Actors’ Equity Association. He has served on the Board of Directors of PATA and is on the faculty of the Portland Actors Conservatory. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Wayne State University and a Master of Fine Arts from The University of Washington Professional Actor’s Training Program under Jack Clay. While in New York City, he studied with Tanya Berezin, a founding member and an Artistic Director of Circle Repertory Theatre. Mendelson has directed As You Like ItLear’s Follies and The Taming of the Shrew for Portland Shakespeare Project, Love’s Labour’s Lost at Northwest Classical Theatre Company,Stones In His Pockets at Public House Theatre, As Is at Key Productions, The Meaning of Prayer at Verbatim Productions and staged readings of Botticelli at Profile Theatre andDinner With Friends at Mt. Hood Repertory Theatre. His acting credits at Artists Rep include Alfred Lunt in Ten Chimneys, Andrei Borchevsky in Red Herring, Sherlock inSherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol and Alan Raleigh in God of Carnage. Prior credits at Artists Rep includeThe Cherry Orchard, Superior Donuts,Othello, Design for Living, Holidazed, Becky’s New Car, Three Sisters, Eurydice, Houseand Garden, Orson’s Shadow, Mr. Marmalade, Theater District, Present Laughter, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Mistakes Were Made, and The Quality of Life. Other local credits include King Lear and Betrayal  (Oregon Shakespeare Festival/Portland); Burn This, The Lisbon Traviata, Klonsky and Schwartzand The Glass Menagerie (Profile Theatre); Fuente Ovejuna (Miracle Theatre); Edward II, Bent and Jeffrey (triangle productions!); As You Like It and The Winter’s Tale (Tygres Heart Shakespeare); The Rivals, Comfort and Joy, Macbeth and Mrs. Warren’s Profession(Portland Center Stage); A Christmas Carol (A Contemporary Theatre) and A Hatful of Rain, Laughing Wild, and The Importance of Being Earnest (New Rose Theatre). New York credits include The Merchant of Venice (Revolving Shakespeare Co.); Leontes in The Winter’s Tale (Theatre 1010); The Normal Heart (Lincoln Center/Clark Studio Theatre);Behind These Eyes (Genesius Guild) and Rebecca In Waiting (The Barrow Group). Regional credits include work at PCPA Theatrefest, Paper Mill Playhouse, Saint Michael’s Playhouse, Penobscot Theatre Company, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, First Stage Milwaukee, Idaho Rep, Attic Theater and Wisconsin, Utah and Berkeley Shakespeare Festivals.



Bios, headshots, Q&As and so much more! Check out the playbill for Intimate Apparel here.

Video Trailer