A darkly comic exploration of race relations through the lens of one dysfunctional American family, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Appropriate will have its Australian premiere at Sydney Theatre Company this March.
Winner of the Obie Award for Best New American Play, Appropriate looks at the US South’s buried history through the wildly entertaining yet confronting story of one family.
In a crumbling plantation home somewhere in Arkansas, a family comes together to pick through their recently deceased father’s hoard of possessions, a seemingly indiscriminate mix of junk and historical artefacts.
With the house’s imminent sale exerting pressure on everyone present, old tensions begin to rise up like ghosts while new dysfunctions are just starting to take shape. The discovery of an unexpected and troubling photo album forces a family to reconcile with a man they’re desperate to remember and a history they’d rather forget.
Director Wesley Enoch says the themes explored in the play are particularly poignant in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the stark relevance to Australian society is being accentuated by the two Indigenous creatives at the helm (himself and Assistant Director Shari Sebbens).
“A play about race relations written by a man of colour for an entirely white cast is a striking narrative vehicle to work with and it’s been a delight to explore that important discourse with the cast so far,” says Enoch.
“This story is rooted in American history and writing but it’s also a great crossover work for Australian audiences because of the parallels between the two national stories – “the Deep South” of America where the play is set could translate to the “Deep North” of this country.”
Enoch has corralled a formidable cast for the show, including Sam Worthington (Avatar, Somersault) in his first return to the Sydney stage in over twenty years. He is joined by Lucy Bell (Griffin Theatre Company’s Splinter, Foxtel’s Fighting Season), Mandy McElhinney (Mosquitoes, Channel 9’s Love Child), Johnny Carr (The Real Thing), Brenna Harding (Jumpy, Channel Ten’s Puberty Blues), James Fraser (Amazon Prime’s The Wilds), Ella Jacob (Rules for Living), Joel Bishop (Harp in The South: Part One and Part Two) and Robbi Morgan in his STC debut.
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is one of America’s most exciting and lauded playwrights. Twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a recipient of a prestigious MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellowship, he is the master of thought-provoking and engaging pieces that shine new light on familiar stories.
“Brilliantly sophisticated, often bitingly funny and it confirms Jacobs-Jenkins as one of the sharpest young US dramatists writing today.” – Financial Times UK
Director: Wesley Enoch Featuring: Lucy Bell, Joel Bishop, Johnny Carr, James Fraser, Brenna Harding, Ella Jacob, Mandy McElhinney, Robbi Morgan, Sam Worthington Designer: Elizabeth Gadsby Lighting Designer: Trent Suidgeest Composer & Sound Designer: Steve Francis Assistant Director: Shari Sebbens Fight & Intimacy Director: Nigel Poulton
Roslyn Packer Theatre, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay (Sydney)
Season: 19 March – 10 April 2021 (previews: 15 – 18 March)
Information and Bookings: www.sydneytheatre.com.au
Image: Mandy McElhinney, Johnny Carr, Sam Worthington, Lucy Bell and Brenna Harding feature in Appropriate – photo by Rene Vaile