The “family drama” is a hallmark of the American Theatre. We think of plays like DEATH OF A SALESMAN, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT and AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY as masterpieces of the family drama genre. However, when plays like A RAISIN IN THE SUN, FAMILIAR, TOPDOG/ UNDERDOG and the plays of August Wilson (all of which are stories of family) are talked about they are generally referred to as plays dealing with race. In the white “family dramas” listed above, race is as much of an issue as it is in the plays of August Wilson. So why are plays written about people of color, by people of color “race plays” and those by white writers seen as family dramas? The answer lies in white privilege. America does not treat whiteness as a race. White is treated as the default – the norm. This is one major aspect of white privilege: white people don’t have think about race.
In APPROPRIATE playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins appropriates the genre of the white family drama to make whiteness racially visible at all times. He makes blackness and the violence done to people of color visible without a black or brown person appearing on stage. The environment of the plantation and the family home as a character take on profound allegorical meaning in this script that asks important questions and makes us confront the dark past that lies in the soil of America’s past and that taints America’s present. What might have been deemed inappropriate for discussion in decades past, now is a conversation that must be had.
We hope you enjoy this extraordinary production and look forward to welcoming you back to Dobama very soon. This summer we’re excited to be producing the American Premiere of ON THE GRILL, winner of the Israeli Academy Award for Best Play and featuring Dorothy Silver. Be sure to check out our newly announced line-up of plays for our 18/19 Season and consider becoming a member or donor. There has never been a better time to be a part of Dobama – Cleveland’s Off-Broadway Theatre.