Students perform in the 2019 production of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' "Appropriate."

Written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Directed by Dr. Robert Vrtis
Center for the Arts: Jewel Theatre
March 15-17, 2019

Press Release

Luther College presents Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' "Appropriate," a story of siblings colliding over a contentious family history while settling the accounts of the newly-dead Lafayette patriarch.

The play "Appropriate," begins when every estranged member of the Lafayette clan descends upon the crumbling Arkansas homestead to settle the accounts of the newly-dead patriarch. As his three adult children sort through a lifetime of hoarded mementos and junk, they collide over clutter, debt and a contentious family history. But after a disturbing discovery surfaces among their father's possessions, the reunion takes a turn for the explosive, unleashing a series of crackling surprises and confrontations.

Director's Note

Some things are just in the air we breathe, inescapable. It is useless to pretend otherwise.

How do we learn something central to our lives without being taught it? In the second act, Cassidy asks Rhys how cicadas learn the song so central to their life cycle if they weren’t taught it by their parents. After all, the cicadas that come up singing from the earth are the offspring of parents who are themselves 13 years dead.

Were they programmed with the song like biological computers? Did they absorb it in the egg? Is the song some inextricable part of them? The cicadas in this play, always singing just outside, suggest that some things just pervade our lives, invisible in their ubiquity but nevertheless shaping our actions and our views. 

To my mind, the brilliance of Appropriate is in the interplay of absence and presence. The Lafayette family is revealed in this play primarily by their relationship to people and events that both are and are not on stage. Ghosts haunt the edges of this play, they press in on the bodies of the living, and they provide the characters with their distinct shapes through their forcefully present absences.

Some things are just in the air we breathe, inescapable. It is useless to pretend otherwise.
And yet we do. 

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