Villanova Theatre Set for An ‘Intimate’ Production


intimate apparel

Isabella Nardone Staff Writer

It might be set in 1905 turn-of-the-century Manhattan, but “Intimate Apparel” is still extremely applicable to a modern audience. Lynn Nottage, Pulitzer prize winning playwright, transports the audience back to a time period of strict societal boundaries and enforced rules. The play instantly grapples with themes regarding race, culture, socioeconomic status and gender roles, in addition to romance, intimacy and human connections. 

The Villanovan had the opportunity to interview Kara Krichman, who stars in the Villanova Student Theatre Department’s production of “Intimate Apparel” which opens on Nov. 7. Krichman is a second-year graduate student pursuing her master’s degree. She received her bachelor’s degree in theater at Wagner College, one of the most prestigious musical theater programs in the country. Krichman has been starring in commercials since she was old enough to remember and has always known that she has wanted to be on stage. In “Intimate Apparel” she plays the role of Southern belle turned New York City socialite, Mrs. Van Buren. 

The title of the production, “Intimate Apparel,” is as scandalous as it would seem. The play focuses on Esther, an African American seamstress who is praised for her exquisite work and sought out by both the wealthy and the impoverished for handmade undergarments. Krichman explained that the play “weaves Esther’s life through her experiences with other people in Manhattan.” Esther meets people and is given opportunities due to the agency and freedom of her demanding occupation. She crosses thresholds and befriends African American prostitutes, Jewish fabric salesmen and members of the upper echelon of Manhattan society. Esther is “looking for love, companionship and touch, this play is an exploration of all that”, Krichman says of “Intimate Apparel.” 

Although the play takes place in the early 1900s during a period of “melting pot” activity, the story line is extremely relevant today. The overarching themes and motifs of “Intimate Apparel” are applicable to almost everybody. Krichman believes that “one of the larger themes of the play is intimacy and the other, that ties along with it, is yearning—they all want something.” 

The rigid boundaries between socioeconomic classes and different races may not be as harsh in today’s society, but the feelings and emotions every character expresses will be easily identifiable for the audience. “It’s about connection, it’s about missed connection, it’s about people wanting something whether that be a relationship or a job, the dream that is America and does that dream bring fulfillment,” Krichman said. “Intimate Apparel” dives into deep, controversial themes that the playwright uses to explore through her characters and their personal experiences. But, at the end of the day, each character is looking for love and self acceptance.

Krichman told The Villanovan to pay attention to the fabrics Esther uses throughout the play. Its seemingly minor detail of the plot, but is actually a major symbol and metaphor in “Intimate Apparel.”  Each scene in the play is given the title of a specific fabric that Esther uses for her garments throughout the play. Krichman let us in on a secret, however. Krichman said that the “plotline feels like the fabric. It starts out really structured then starts to flow. It starts as very textured and moves to very silky, luxurious fabric which parallels the whirlwind of Esther’s experiences.” In Krichman’s opinion, the conclusion of the play ends back in a structured place, seemingly coming full circle from the beginning. Krichman said that the audience should definitely be paying attention to the fabrics of the play. The fabrics Esther uses in her sewing and also the fabric of the costumes the actors will be wearing. It all weaves together to create a larger thematic statement.

“Intimate Apparel” opens on Tuesday Nov. 7 at Vasey Hall and runs until the 19. Tickets can be purchased online in advance or at the door.