Privileged to Join First Audience for OSF World-Premiere “Sweat”

We at Butler Automotive Group are not unaccustomed to happy surprises; the automotive industry is, like the products it produces, always moving, and no day is exactly like any day that came before it. So when Rob Milburn, the veteran sound designer whose work has moved audiences from Broadway to London’s West End, came to pick up a car at Butler SuperSaver Rent-A-Car, we knew we were in for a great conversation.

800px-Bowmer_theatre_ashlandWe‘re passionate about the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and have been since Chuck and Linda Butler first put down roots in Ashland in 1976,
so the opportunity to meet  Rob, who has been instrumental in groundbreaking theater for over 30 years, was especially meaningful.
We were incredibly honored when Rob extended an invitation to attend a preview of Sweat, the newest original production in OSF’s highly-acclaimed American Revolutions program.
We were seated in the back osfrackrow of Angus Bowmer Theatre, alongside Tony-winning lighting designer Peter Kaczorowski, who is lending his considerable genius to the OSF production of Sweat. It was a poignant lesson in the nuances of theatrical production to be a fly on the wall for Peter’s intermission notes;  the play that entranced us with its narrative and characters was, to him, a piece to be perfected, a canvas still in need of a few brushstrokes before its unveiling.

Sweat is a story of love and loss, of community and alienation from it. Set in an American factory town, Sweat’s story spans the eight years between the dawn of the 21st century and the trough of the 2008 recession. This world-premiere from Pulitzer-winning playwright Lynn Nottage is not recommended for the whole family; adult themes and language are part of the fabric of a population that was at the best of times united by back-breaking work, and at the worst of times torn apart by the loss of it.

Credit Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Credit Oregon Shakespeare Festival

While so much of the dialogue surrounding the recession, a pivotal moment in American history whose aftershocks are still being felt, has focused on cold, dollars-and-cents financial hardship, Sweat shines the spotlight directly on the human cost of economic devastation. Factory closings, trade agreements, and presidential elections may dominate headlines, but Sweat tells the story of the men and women whose lives and friendships depend on decisions made by powerful people who have never even taken the time to step out of their air-conditioned office to meet them.  Previews began yesterday, July 29, and Sweat opens Sunday, August 2

We at Butler are always grateful to be part of the Rogue Valley community, and our trip to see Sweat served as a perfect distillation of why we do what we do: our Rent-A-Car business lets us play a small role in helping brilliant actors, artists, and musicians to create the works of art that bring people to Ashland from all over the world, and we couldn’t be happier to provide our services!

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