Kearstin Piper Brown and Justin Austin as Esther and George in Ricky Ian Gordon and Lynn Nottage's Intimate Apparel. Credit: Julieta Cervantes.

Complex Issues: 'Intimate Apparel' | Spring 2022

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Playwright Lynn Nottage, Theatre, and composer and musician Ricky Ian Gordon, discuss their transformation of Nottage’s 2003 play Intimate Apparel into opera, as well as other recent collaborations. Introduced and moderated by Christian Parker '98, Theatre. 


Deemed “a knockout” and “a joy to hear” by the New York Times, and running through March 6, 2022 at Lincoln Center TheaterIntimate Apparel is described as: 


“Set in 1905 in turn of the century New York, [the opera] tells the story of Esther, a lonely, single African-American woman who makes her living sewing beautiful corsets and ladies’ undergarments. There is warm affection between her and the Orthodox Jewish man who sells fabrics to her, but any relationship between them, even a touch, is completely forbidden. Seeking love and romance, Esther eventually embarks on a letter-writing relationship with a mysterious suitor laboring on the Panama Canal. When he moves to New York they embark on an unhappy marriage, leading Esther to realize that only her self-reliance and certainty of her own worth will see her through life’s challenges.”


Press for Intimate Apparel

"‘Intimate Apparel’ Now Showing At Lincoln Center Theater," by Alison Stewart. All of It, February 17, 2022.

In ‘Intimate Apparel,’ Letting the Seamstress Sing,” by Jesse Green. New York Times, January 31, 2022.


About Complex Issues

Complex Issues explores difference, visibility, and representation through recent work by faculty of Columbia University and Columbia University School of the Arts in particular. Conversations will invite challenging questions of racial, ethnic, gender, economic, sexual, religious, and cultural complexity, and how they are articulated across disciplines and genre today.

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