(Photo: Curios Theatre)
By: Allison Upchurch, Staff Reporter
Tensions rise, and family drama unfolds in this stage play presented at the Curious Theatre in downtown Denver.
Marking its regional premiere in the Rocky Mountains, Appropriate is an original play written by playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and tells the story of an to estrange family who recently lost their father and comes together to clean out and auction off his things left behind in his plantation house in Arkansas. When the family finds a photo album of lynchings among his possessions, the family’s image of their father and each other is challenged and brings up questions of treatment and the lifestyles of each member of the family.
What this play is successful in doing is challenging the audience. During a talk-back with the actors after the play, the audience and actors reflected upon the play’s intention to challenge the issues of family dynamics and race in this country. “One of the reasons that I respect it so much is because it gives people so many angles in,” actor Eric Sandvold explains. “He [play write Jacobs-Jenkins] does it in such a metaphorical way that I think whether you know it or not; it is still speaking into the national conversation of the national dysfunction of all these different issues.”
Chip Walton, Curious Theatre’s producing artistic director for Appropriate, commented on how performing arts can be a catalyst for conversation about race. After discussing on how the play write and director are black while all the actors in the cast are white, he says “It has really been significant for me, and it has opened up questions, not just about art, but about how we talk about race with each other in ways that are sometimes challenging but ultimately productive.”
For the Regis community, this play speaks and shows a lot of the topics that many students, staff, and faculty focus on or live through every day. Some items get more attention than others, but that’s where the Jesuit value of “Magis” can come in as an aspect of this play and the conversations it brings. Since “Magis” is known as “striving for the better”, Appropriate and its cast and crew show this by putting these difficult topics into a stage spotlight. They show how these items tear people apart in the show, but then after the actors step out, they show how there is a need to come together as a community and reflect on how we can do better.