By Allie Matherne
“Make them feel how uncomfortable you are — you think having the sex talk is hard? Try giving it,” Stan Denman, director of upcoming play “Appropriate,” told his cast during rehearsal Tuesday night.
It only seems atypical for a Baylor production, Denman said. The show is ultimately about sin — our ability to deal with our own and accept the depth of others’, Denman said.
Tickets for Baylor Theatre’s newest production, “Appropriate,” went on sale earlier this week. The dark, comedic play scrapes the complexities of truth, forgiveness and grace.
“This play doesn’t behave well,” Denman said. “Too often, whether it’s in our plays, movies or even churches, we believe that people need to dress right or speak right before they are worthy of redemption.”
“Appropriate” tells the story of three siblings’ return to Southeast Arkansas to settle the estate of their father, who passed away. During this time they uncover things about their father’s past that shock them. The artifacts linger as the characters try to decide what to do with them, Denman said.
“It’s about the legacy of sin,” Denman said.
If the objects are a part of their father’s life, they are a part of theirs by extension, Denman said.
It forces the characters to deal with the sin in their own lives, as well as the forgiveness of other people’s sins, and shows the worst parts of humanity, said Aledo senior Jennifer Nickell, who plays a lead character named Toni.
“You have to show the fallen before you can show the redeemed,” Denman said.
The story revolves around one fallen family, but typifies the emotions that an individual can feel about their own sin, Denman said.
“I hope [people] would leave respecting other people’s stories more,” said Los Angeles junior Devin Perry, who plays River. “It’s so beautiful and powerful the depth that people feel and the amount people can ignore that depth. This story gives them a voice.”
The playwright, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, won an Obie award for the play in 2012. This award is given to off-Broadway productions; past recipients include Samuel Beckett and Morgan Freeman.
Sonora senior Colyer Dermody recalled a compelling quote made by his lead character, Bo: “I didn’t choose to be white and Southern.”
This moment in the play is significant because it shows the tension between choice and legacy, Dermody said.
“You’ve been handed a legacy of sin or a life of sin. Okay, what do you do with that?” Denman said. “How do I redeem that?”
Denman said the play appeals to the South — it is a relevant story that many people can resonate with.
The understanding that humans need to be redeemed is at the core of humanity, he said.
“It resonates with all people, not just Christians,” Denman said.
It is important that audience members realize that this is not expository preaching, Denman said. Good plays are a platform to begin the conversation.
“I want them to go away from the theater talking,” Denman said.