By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
@PATRICELLI ’92 THEATER
After their father's death, the Lafayettes must return to their summer home and prepare the space and its objects for auction. Following their discovery of telling objects about their family's past, they are forced to see the insidious histories to which they are connected.
CONTENT WARNING: This production deals with the history of whiteness in the United States, containing explicitly violent imagery and discussion surrounding racialized, sexualixed, and traumatized figures. If you have questions or concerns about the content please feel free to reach out to the director or dramaturge. (smorreale@wes and jmcduffiethu@wes, respectively)
A note from the dramaturge.
It is difficult to summarize Branden Jacobs Jenkins’ Appropriate. In many ways it is a play that defies simple categorization or interpretation, but I would personally describe it as a project that is invested in naming and critically illustrating violent affects of whiteness. The play is a poignant microcosm of the society in which we live. Its content is jarring at times but never gratuitous; it is striking because of how honest the representation is.
As an audience member, it is crucial for you to hold this representation alongside the racial context of the world(s) in which you live. The discord that exists between these characters within the play is not solely a product of their internal family dynamics, it is directly informed by the historical function of whiteness in this country and the ways in which centuries of privilege and prioritization have coalesced into daily embodiments of power. To engage with the former while negating the latter is not only counter-intuitive to understanding the layers of this performance - it is a violent act.
You and I cannot afford to ignore the manifestations of white violence that feel inconvenient or uncomfortable to blatantly address. We cannot afford to entertain comfortable narratives that absolve white folks of any responsibility to contest the social and institutional power they enjoy at the expense of the lives of non-white people on a local and global scale.
Keeping these stakes in mind, it has been important to me to use this process to, in part, create an ethnography of whiteness. Moving beyond hierarchical conceptualizations of “good whites” [often imagined as educated white liberals] and “bad whites” [uneducated poor conservatives], the cast, the artistic team, and I have used this setting to focus on how they themselves, along with their characters, manifest white power and privilege through their daily actions, choices, decisions on what to see/un-see.
As an audience member, I’d urge you to do the same while watching this play. Consider how white supremacy and white privilege materialize in your personal life. Consider how you mobilize white power for your personal convenience. Consider where you fail to hold yourself accountable and why. Consider whiteness.
Franz: Connor Aberle
River: Polly Pierone
Rhys: Taylor Dillon
Toni: Vienna Kaylin
Rachael: Anna Fox
Bo: Babe Howard
Ainsley: Hannah Goodwin-Pierce
Cassie: Grace Sanford
Director: Samuel Morreale
Stage Manager: Rachel Godfrey
Dramaturge: Jumoke McDuffie-Thurmond
Assistant Director: Campbell Silverstein
Assistant Stage Manager: Terrell Saunders
Set Designer: Levi Ask
Light Designer: Keishan Christophe
Costume Designer: Campbell Silverstein
Props Designer: Erin Mitchell
Sound Designer: Naomi Williams
Master Carpenter: Jaime Wiesner
Publicity: Lena Mitchell