Crumbs from the Table of Joy

Last Saturday, Eclipse got the chance to share one more Lynn Nottage play that wasn’t a part of the season with audience members who chose to come out and experience more of Lynn Nottage’s work.  Actors from the Chicago community came together to read aloud Crumbs from the Table of Joy so we could all engage in the play together.

As you can see, the actors held their scripts and sat right on the set of Intimate Apparel.  There was no attempt to create the illusion that we were in the world of this play.  And yet, the words came alive the minute Krystal Mosley, playing the part of a 17-year old Ernestine Crump who has just moved to Brooklyn with her father and younger sister, started reading the text.  The surprising thing about this play is that Nottage chooses to have Ernestine narrate the story as it is taking place.  This was a big surprise for those in the audience that had already seen Intimate Apparel and Ruined.  How could one playwright manage to so successfully write in such different styles?

Well, it was an afternoon full of discussion about how different her plays are and discovery of what kinds of characters Nottage is inspired to write.  One audience member commented on Nottage’s use of religion in her plays.  The father in Crumbs from the Table of Joy has turned to religion to settle his grieving heart since the passing of his wife, and though it consoles him, we also experience how much of a fool he becomes in the eyes of his daughters, but yet Nottage never condemns him for his choices.  Esther in Intimate Apparel also holds tightly to the need for religion in her life, but fails to be able to really join the church community until she can “walk in on [her husband’s] arm.”

It was a very stimulating afternoon and a joy to be able to really dig into an extra play with our audiences.  Keep a lookout for more readings in our Playwright Scholars Series! It really is a great chance to dig deep into our study of a wonderful playwright.

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