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STC's darkly comic exploration of race relations

Pictured: Mandy McElhinney, Johnny Carr, Sam Worthington, Lucy Bell and Brenna Harding. Photo: Rene Vaile

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' Appropriate - a darkly comic exploration of race relations through the lens of one dysfunctional American family - will have its Australian premiere at Sydney Theatre Company next month.

Director Wesley Enoch says the themes explored in the play are particularly poignant in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the stark relevance to Australian society is being accentuated by the two Indigenous creatives at the helm (himself and Assistant Director Shari Sebbens).

"A play about race relations written by a man of colour for an entirely white cast is a striking narrative vehicle to work with and it's been a delight to explore that important discourse with the cast so far," Enoch says.

"This story is rooted in American history and writing but it's also a great crossover work for Australian audiences because of the parallels between the two national stories - “the Deep South” of America where the play is set could translate to the “Deep North” of this country.”

Enoch has a formidable cast for the show, including Sam Worthington (Avatar, Somersault) in his first return to the Sydney stage in over twenty years. He is joined by Lucy Bell (Griffin Theatre Company’s Splinter, Foxtel’s Fighting Season), Mandy McElhinney (Mosquitoes, Channel 9's Love Child), Johnny Carr (The Real Thing), Brenna Harding (Jumpy, Channel Ten's Puberty Blues), James Fraser (Amazon Prime's The Wilds), Ella Jacob (Rules for Living), Joel Bishop (Harp in The South: Part One and Part Two) and Robbi Morgan in his STC debut.

Twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, American playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins riffs on the work of classic writers to tell uncomfortable truths about contemporary America.

Winner of the Obie Award for Best New American Play, Appropriate looks at the US South’s buried history through the entertaining yet confronting story of one family. In a crumbling plantation home somewhere in Arkansas, a family comes together to pick through their recently deceased father’s hoard of possessions. What they discover forces them to reconcile with a man they’re desperate to remember and a history they’d rather forget.

Season: Roslyn Packer Theatre, Previews:15-18 March, Season: 20 March - 10 April (Opening Night 19 March)