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.


It’s time to find out why our sewing machine isn’t “just a prop”!

If you’ve already come to see Intimate Apparel, then you’ve gotten the chance to check out our sewing machine! People are amazed by it and some people have been lingering a bit on their way out of the theatre to sneak a closer look at our sewing machine.

At our Post-Show Discussion last Sunday, Costume Designer, Rachel Lambert, talked a bit about our sewing machine and audience members got to ask Kelly Owens (pictured below), all about what it is like to sew with this machine during the course of the play. But if you missed the talkback, here is your chance:

Take a look at Theatre in Chicago‘s article about our very own machine! You’ll get to know more about what it takes to use an antique sewing machine onstage.  Read it here!


Post-Show Discussions with the cast and crew follow all Sunday performances!
They can also be arranged for student groups following any performance.

How to Make Friends with Corsets

An interesting idea came up during the discussion that followed yesterday’s performance of Intimate Apparel (we have discussions after all Sunday matinee performances): the idea that a corset can create a friendship.

Intimate Apparel Kelly Owens Skye Shrum


An audience member started the conversation by asking the cast how their work as actors is affected by the costumes – a great question to explore in a period drama about a seamstress, where the clothes really do take center stage. Since all of the women in the play wear corsets (designed by Costume Designer Rachel Lambert), they all had strong opinions on the subject. On of the most interesting things that came up is that it’s not possible to get into a corset by yourself — you need another person’s help to tighten and tie the corset. This need for help, in an inherently intimate setting, creates a genuine bond between women that our cast felt both as actors and as characters.

Broadway and Subways in 1900s New York

Scenes between Nottage’s characters ESTHER and MRS. VAN BUREN in Intimate Apparel reveal how different even entertainment could be for people of different classes and races in New York City in the early 1900’s. So let’s take a look at what the entertainment industry was like back then!

Something that significantly affected entertainment was the birth of the subway!


New York’s exploding population was also enjoying increased mobility. In 1904, the city opened its first underground commuter railroad lines. Thanks to this extensive system of “subways,” tens of thousands living miles away from the theatre district could catch a Broadway show and still sleep in their own beds. Add in the ever-increasing numbers of tourists who came into the city by rail and steamship, and Broadway had an expanded audience base that could support more productions and longer runs than ever before.


In the next few days, we will take a look at what kind of shows the different characters in Intimate Apparel might have had access to and just how much societal rules impacted how people could spend their free time.

Click here to continue reading the article about musical theatre and broadway in the early 1900s.

Playwright Scholars Series

Eclipse Theatre Company invites you to continue your journey through Lynn Nottage’s works with us! Explore the breadth and depth of the worlds created by this season’s playwright.


A Playwright Scholar Series staged reading of Crumbs from the Table of Joy

by 2014 featured playwright LYNN NOTTAGE.

Directed by Artistic Director Nathaniel Swift

Athenaeum Theatre
2936 N. Southport, Chicago


Featuring Eclipse ensemble members Rebecca Prescott* and TayLar* with guest artists Kendra Turner, Krystal Mosley, and Andre Teamer.
*appears courtesy of Actors Equity Association

“Imagine a pairing…between Tennessee Williams and Lorraine Hansberry, a memory play about a black family, a glass menagerie in the sun…CRUMBS FROM THE TABLE OF JOY [is] a small window into the past, and this almost voyeuristic glimpse is worth attention.” —NY Post.

Recently widowed Godfrey and his daughters, Ernestine and Ermina, move from Florida to Brooklyn for a better life. Not knowing how to parent, Godfrey turns to religion, and Father Divine, for answers. Godfrey’s sister-in-law, Lily, arrives from Harlem, having promised her sister she’d look out for the girls. Lily stands for everything Godfrey dislikes: communism, sexual freedom and the fight against racial discrimination.

No reservations needed. General admission. $5 suggested donations. For additional information, visit or call 773-728-2216.

INTIMATE APPAREL performances have begun!

Eclipse Theatre presents INTIMATE APPAREL by Lynn Nottage. Directed by Steve Scott. Pictured are Kelly Owens and Frances Wilkerson. Photos by Tim Knight.  Get  your tickets here!


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Intimate Apparel Kelly Owens Brandon Greenhouse 3     Intimate Apparel Kelly Owens Brandon Greenhouse   Intimate Apparel Kelly Owens Ebony Joy   Intimate Apparel Kelly Owens Eustace Allen   Intimate Apparel Kelly Owens Frances Wilkerson 2   Intimate Apparel Kelly Owens Frances Wilkerson   Intimate Apparel Kelly Owens Skye Shrum

Previews begin TONIGHT!!

Previews for INTIMATE APPAREL begin tonight! We are so incredibly excited to share this beautiful story with you.

$8 industry tickets will be offered all of our previews of Intimate Apparel! We’re offering $8 industry nights for all of our previews on July 17th, 18th and 19th!