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Exploring Themes:
Where is the line in the sand?

Sweat is powerful because of the universal themes. It portrays strong relationships between friends that are put to the test.


  • What if your best friend betrayed you?

  • What if a family member stole from you?

  • When do you forgive, and when do you cut ties?


The cast of Sweat on Broadway, 2016. Photo by Joan Marcus.

School Hallway
Entry Point


In some relationships, the conflict has very high stakes and asks one person to sacrifice their beliefs, morals, or dreams. As a class, create a list of possible conflicts that students have experienced or have seen in the news.


Sort the list into two categories: Those that might be irreconcilable and those that are not. Ask students why they made those choices. 


Khris Davis as Chris and Will Pullen as Jason in Sweat on Broadway. 2016.

Jason vs. Chris

Jason and Chris have been friends since they were kids. At the beginning of the play they can barely speak to each other because of the horrible thing they did, which landed them both in jail. And Jason has emerged from prison with a white supremacist tattoo on his face.


Can friendships be restored when two paths split so sharply and are changed by tragedy? 


Take a look at this video.


Is it possible for people to change? Or is this an exception to the rule? What qualities does it take to make a change like this? 

Oscar vs. Patrons

Oscar is a busboy at the bar frequented by the characters in Sweat. Despite being born in the town, he is often "othered" because of his Columbian American roots.  


Feeling no connection to the workers, Oscar crosses the picket line and takes a job at the mill, which infuriates the other characters.  


Does Oscar owe anything to the workers, who might lose their job because of his actions?  



Take a look at this video.

Do you think this teacher is right or wrong for being a “scab?” Is it okay to cross a picket line if you are going to lose your car? Your cellphone? Your house?  


Johanna Day as Tracey and Carlos Alban as Oscar in Sweat on Broadway. 2016.


Johanna Day as Tracey and Michelle Wilson as Cynthia in Sweat on Broadway. 2016.

Cynthia vs. Tracey 

Tracey (Jason’s mother) and Cynthia (Chris’s mother) work at the mill and have been lifelong friends. When a management position opens up at the mill, they both apply. When Cynthia gets the job, Tracey claims she only got the job because she’s black.  


As part of management, Cynthia must support actions that lock out  employees who won't take a massive pay cut. 


How do you think their friendship suffers? Where should Cynthia's loyalties lie? To her job, or to her friends?  




Take a look at this video.


Do you agree with the panel? If you were the manager, where would your loyalties lie?

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