Sac State professor directs Pulitzer Prize winning play

‘SWEAT’ will be on stage for a month at Capital Stage

Sac+State+professor%2C+Michael+Stevenson%2C+directs+the+play+%27SWEAT%27+at+Capital+Stage+in+Sacramento%2C+Calif.+The+play+debuted+Oct.+17+and+runs+until+Nov.+18.
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Sac State professor directs Pulitzer Prize winning play

Sac State professor, Michael Stevenson, directs the play 'SWEAT' at Capital Stage in Sacramento, Calif. The play debuted Oct. 17 and runs until Nov. 18.

Sac State professor, Michael Stevenson, directs the play 'SWEAT' at Capital Stage in Sacramento, Calif. The play debuted Oct. 17 and runs until Nov. 18.

Paul Pena - The State Hornet

Sac State professor, Michael Stevenson, directs the play 'SWEAT' at Capital Stage in Sacramento, Calif. The play debuted Oct. 17 and runs until Nov. 18.

Paul Pena - The State Hornet

Paul Pena - The State Hornet

Sac State professor, Michael Stevenson, directs the play 'SWEAT' at Capital Stage in Sacramento, Calif. The play debuted Oct. 17 and runs until Nov. 18.

Paul Pena

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A 2015 Pulitzer Prize winning play premiered at downtown theatre  Capital Stage, and is being directed by Sacramento State professor Michael Stevenson.

“SWEAT” plot depicts a group of friends and coworkers whose trust amongst each other takes a hit when their job begins to make layoffs. The friends begin to turn on each other in a “heart-wrenching fight to stay afloat,” according to the Facebook event page.

The story, written by Lynn Nottage, takes place in Reading, Pennsylvania, one of the poorest cities in America.

“Nottage was inspired by when she visited this little town and saw the economic downturn that was happening,” Stevenson said. “She was fascinated by the stories of the workers and spent about a year there interviewing people.”

Stevenson had four weeks to put the play together.

“It’s always tough having to direct a play in such a short amount of time,” Stevenson said. “It makes it a lot easier for me when this cast is one of the best that I have worked with.”

According to Stevenson, he was on the verge of choosing to become a doctor, but found out that the theater field was the one for him. He first started acting in high school, and later became a director in 1997.  

“Every play has its own challenges, such as finding the loopholes within the play that need to be filled in,” Stevenson said. “But that’s what makes [directing] fun.”

Michael Stevenson, a Sac State professor, instructs actors on set of the play ‘SWEAT’ at Capital Stage in Sacramento, Calif. The play debuted Oct. 17 and runs until Nov. 18. Paul Pena – The State Hornet  

James Ellison, who plays a parole officer named Evan, has been acting for 18 years and this will be his first play working with Stevenson.

“It has been great working with him,” Ellison said. “He is one of the best directors that I have had the opportunity working with.”

Ellison realized he wanted to become an actor when he did a skit at the age of four in front his mom and it made her happy.

“Me, my cousin and brother did a skit in front of my mom,” Ellison said. “She was just right there cheesing and her attitude had completely changed.”

Actor Matt K. Miller, playing Stan, a bartender, has known Stevenson for 15 years and has worked with him in the past.

“It has been great working with him,” Miller said. “Being friends for a long time makes it easier when it comes to directing plays.”

Miller has been acting for 34 years and first got involved with theater when he was told by a friend to enroll in a theater class in high school to talk to girls.

“My friend told me to join a theater class because there were a lot of girls in those classes, so that’s why I decided to enroll in the class,” Miller said.

According to Miller, this play shows how often relationships with people are not as strong as they seem.

“This is a great play because it tests whether or not bonds were as strong as it was believed from when they first started,” Miller said. “It’s not unusual to see bonds break and I think this is what this play shows.”

“SWEAT” runs through Nov. 18. Times vary and tickets range from $22 to $40 depending on the day

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