Eat at Clyde's — everyone else is

Audiences can't get enough of Lynn Nottage's plays. Here's why.

By Camilla Castilho    

For the second year in a row, Zoetic Stage is opening its season at the Arsht Center with a play by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage. Mlima’s Tale, an ambitious work about the ghost of an African elephant killed by poachers, was the first show in Zoetic’s 2022-23 season. Clyde’s, a redemption story set in a truck-stop sandwich shop, begins the company’s new season, along with the latest edition of the Center’s Theater Up Close series.

“Lynn Nottage is arguably one of the most important and celebrated playwrights in America,” says Stuart Meltzer, the play’s director and Zoetic Stage’s artistic director. “Clyde's is a comedy, and I thought it was a great start to this season to kick audiences off laughing.”

Clyde’s, which premiered on Broadway in 2021, earned five Tony Award nominations, including one for best play. During the 2022-23 theater season, it was the most staged play in the United States. Nottage, meanwhile, once again this season will have more plays in production than any other living playwright. Her other plays include Ruined and Sweat, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2009 and 2017, respectively. She also wrote the book for MJ the Musical, the Tony Award-winning jukebox musical about pop star Michael Jackson that debuted in February 2022.

Nottage’s plays have connected with audiences in large part due to the universality of their themes, especially those involving the struggles of working-class people, social inequality and violence. And as is the case with Clyde’s, her work is deeply entertaining and thoroughly researched. While conducting research for Sweat in Reading, Pennsylvania, Nottage started crafting what would become Clyde’s. The two plays even share a character: Jason, a formerly incarcerated white supremacist who leaves the factory environment of Sweat to work in Clyde’s kitchen.  

“When I was doing my interviews, I went to halfway houses and homeless shelters and encountered many formerly incarcerated people,” Nottage recently told The Guardian. “I didn’t deal with that [subject] when I was writing Sweat, but it remained in the back of my head as something that I wanted to write about. … We live in a society where, if you’re formerly incarcerated, you are still stigmatized. … You’re always going to be connected to the worst thing that you’ve ever done.”

For its production of Clyde’s, running through November 19 in the Carnival Studio Theater, Zoetic Stage hired actors whose work, like that of Nottage, the company has previously spotlighted.

“Zoetic Stage audiences will likely remember most of the cast,” Meltzer says. “Karen Stephens is back with us as Clyde — she was last seen in American Son. Gabriel Salgado, who is quickly becoming a star, is returning after GringoLandia and Frankenstein. Sydney Presendieu and Kristian Bikic both were in last season's productions Mlima's Tale and #Graced. New to Zoetic Stage is actor Randy Coleman. I had an opportunity to see his work last season with Brévo Theatre, and he was so deep and honest.”

For more on the Arsht Center’s 2023-24 Theater Up Close season, go to

Photo courtesy Justin Namon.

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