'Intimate Apparel' is a visually stunning play for the broken hearted
Posted January 23
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Intimate Apparel, a story of love found, love lost and the tenacity of the human spirit, premieres on stage at the Paul Green Theatre on Wednesday.
"If you’ve ever been in love, brokenhearted, or wanted to start your own business, this show is for you," director Raelle Myrick-Hodges said.
Set in 1900s New York, “Intimate Apparel” tells the story of Esther, a middle-aged African-American seamstress who sews intimates for high society and for fallen women alike. Throughout the play, Esther hangs on to independence, love and respect in a world where the color of one’s skin determines what you can be and who you can marry.
The story takes place in the year 1905, but Myrick-Hodges says some of its messages are relevant to the present day.
"When I read the play, I was so taken by how relevant it is to issues of identity and blackness today," she said. "African-American women are currently in a state of metaphorically ‘mending’ in all facets of their life -- love, work and reputation. Esther is a complicated and eloquent metaphor for today’s black women. She’s the original ‘black girl magic’ chica -- doing it all gracefully and graciously, even when broken-hearted."
Myrick-Hodges said her favorite part of the story is how Esther’s job takes audiences in and out of the lives of so many different people. "It’s a beautiful depiction of both immigrants and 'Americans' in a changing New York City landscape," she said.
The "Intimate Apparel" cast and crew spent hours working with local textile shops and students and staff at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to create wardrobes from days past.
UNC dramatic arts professor Bobbi Owen designed every costume in the show. "We’ve worked really hard to make each costume tell the story of the person," Myrick-Hodges said. "You know who this character is from the moment they step on stage."
"Intimate Apparel" is both a love story and an exploration of issues like race and social status.
"Esther’s story is complicated because she has this fantasy relationship with a man she’s never met, but then she’s also been working in this racist and sexist system for awhile," Myrick-Hodges said. "Ultimately, it’s about love of self the the struggle to move on as a black woman."
"Intimate Apparel" runs from Jan. 25 to Feb. 12 at the Paul Green Theatre in Chapel Hill. Discount tickets can be purchased online in advance of the show.