Appropriate

As a person who has an opinion about most things in life. Typing out my reaction for 15 minutes will be a short challenge.

Going to a show and not knowing anything about it made me question myself but also I happened to be very excited. Before the play began, I found that the set of the stage happened to be the best set stage I have ever seen ( especially when it comes to student plays). From the beginning of the story I find that the characters threw out their personality roles very fast. I knew then that this play would touch on subjects that needed to be spoken out loud. When the children discovered the pictures I found it kind of amusing because, things happen like this in real life. Normally when people find out their family is connected to racism, they try to throw it aside or either become very denial. It took me to a place where a lot of history, black history gets swept under the rug but in school we continue to learn about what Christopher Columbus discovered. The one thing that I wanted to add to play would have been a question. “What do you know about these pictures?” I say that because the parents reacted but all they could question was why the father had them. All in all it happened to be a very decent play to attend.

This Ain’t Appropriate.

Before going to see “Appropriate”, I purposefully did not do any research or provide myself with any background knowledge. I wanted to come in with a clean heart, mind, and thoughts, and I am glad I did.

The play contained several epic scenes, brilliant actresses/actors, and vivid lines. I learned so much about this specific family, time period, and generation. Several lines and scenes stood out to me, and moments that I would never forget.

Rachael, “the Jew wife”, played such an important role in this play and was probably my favorite character. The manner in which she dealt with this topic, which she probably would rather not have to talk about or be any part of, was admirable and meaningful. I enjoyed that the play writer starts her off as a friend or acquaintance of Toni, her sister-in-law, and throughout the play, they switch from cordial to cruel.

The topic itself was quite disturbing, but important to experience and watch. A family, putting together the pieces of their slaveowner father who has recently passed away, and digging through the remnants of his old house. The gruesome pictures and memorabilia that they encounter, is not fitting to show a child and unpleasant to discuss as an adult.

The most radical character is definitely Toni, who is in denial to the fact that her father was not the picture-perfect father she knew him to be. He was apart of a much larger crowd that in his time period of time were going around lynching African-Americans as they saw it fit. The proof was all there in front of her and her family, but she just refused to admit it. She chose to ignore the KKK mask, the horrifying pictures, the slave burial ground, and the jars of human bones.

I absolutely enjoyed that after the entire family’s unwillingness to accept their father’s mistakes and wrongdoings, Frank simply discards of the pictures and leave them all in the lake—to be destroyed, and completely out of everyone’s reach.

My biggest major question or concern in this play was the family’s quest for compensation or payment for the pictures that they had found. None of them truly cared who they were selling it to, how the people and/or their descendants would feel, and why those pictures were there in the first place. I just don’t get why they thought that selling these pictures were one of these options. So, they didn’t want to admit that their father not only owned slaves, but also killed them, however, they would gladly sell the pictures of these dead slaves for other people to watch.

Is it Appropriate

I felt like I sort of knew what to expect walking into the theater because I had been working on different characters costumes and had a faint idea about the plot of the story. I was wrong. The story and the way the cast brought it to life was much more violent and personal then I had imagined. I also didn’t expect the characters to have such a deep history with one another before the play even started. The emotions that came up for me the most throughout the play were shock, uncomfortableness, surprise, and relatability. I found that the very beginning of the play felt forced and that the characters weren’t real, but when they started arguing I felt like they were really living in the play. The reactions to the pictures were interesting especially the sense of denial we felt from Tony. She didn’t want to believe that her father had anything to do with those pictures or racism. It showed a realistic perspective of the reactions people may have to finding out they were connected to the actions of the racists in the south.

I also found the children’s reactions to the pictures very interesting. They weren’t nearly as disgusted by them as the adults had been and Cassidy, the teenage girl, seemed more curious about how much they were worth then what they even meant. I wonder if this is because of ignorance or because they children are less connected to the past and feel like they can just ignore it. Also in relationship to our class, they talked about how there was a graveyard behind the back of the house and how the tombstones is what they were tripping over. And that there was also a slave graveyard down by the lake but how its hard to find because there are no markings for it. This relates directly back to our class and I found it interesting that the play write chose to include that specific detail.

Appropriate

For the first part of the blog post, I will write down the notes in the order I took them while watching the play.

  • Beginning of the play a character mentioned how passed the lake, there is a slave graveyard that does not have any markings. Meanwhile, there is another graveyard that has tombstones. Later on in the play a character says,” you would hardly realize you’re there until you are on it”.
  • The walls on the stage showed signs of residue from old picture frames but the only picture left on the wall was a big picture of the old white man. I felt like it was a sign of only commemorating old white men.
  • The characters were talking about how when the house is sold, the construction workers would destroy the graveyard in order to build other things such as a Walmart.
  • One quote that stood out to me was,”maybe he was a slave to his upbringing”.  A character was explaining a possibility as to why their father could have had the pictures of the lynchings. Maybe the lynchings were normalized and the dad grew up in a community where it seemed okay.
  • I felt like when the children could not believe that their father was part of the lynchings at first it was like how some privileged people or institutions do not acknowledge issues and try to erase history. It also reminded my of why Untold RVA is so important. Things are being uncovered from the passed that seem surprising and that were hidden.
  • The father who passed was supposed to become a supreme court judge. The daughter found this as an accomplishment and as a sign of her father being a good man but in reality that is a scary thought and shows was is happing in politics and society today. Minorities do not have a fair chance in court due corrupt minds and policies that privileged white men created and try to stand by. Continuing about the daughter, I feel that she always tried to flip the script and shift blame from her father to others. She thought other people were the problem and that her father was a good man in her eyes. Also, I found that she cared more about her brother being a sex offender but stays blind to the fact that her dad was a racist man.
  • In Act 2, I think they showed the dilemma of sharing and over sharing. One of the grandchildren tried taking a photo of one of the lynchings to post on instagram. In a way it is good to share things like that to educate people but it is also sensitive material that could bring up traumatic emotions from others.
  • One quote from one of the grandchildren was,”All I learned is that everything is a secret” when talking about why she came to the house to learn more about her father and her grandfather. That was like Richmond and how a lot of things are hidden due to institutions covering things up.
  • one thought that came up during second act was: people can be nice but still participate in cruel things. Some things were normalized. White people did not view black people as humans which made it easier for them to do bad things to them such as lynchings. This could explain why people can appear to be a good person but participate in bad things.
  • One sign that the dad was racist was when he saw his son’s black college roommate and would not look at his face. He even later told his son ” keep an eye on your things” as if the black person was going to steal his stuff due to stereotyping.
  • A character brought up that their son did not know the meaning of the photos because they were not taught about lynchings in school.
  • I related the photos thrown into the lake as the lynched bodies floating through the river.
  • “your family makes me crazy” said one of the female characters when she was explaining why she turned violent at the end. The environment that you live in makes you do things that are not necessarily “you”. The family subconsciously had the thirst for violence so then she naturally responded to her environment and became violent herself. This could also explain how some people were able to participate in lynchings. When people around you seemed okay with it, eventually your brain will think it is okay too.

I wanted to talk about how some people do not know what to do to make up for the poor past. The play mentioned how “I’m sorry” means “I’m Sore” which is the oldest ritual and part of the healing process. However, we need more than “I’m sorry” sometimes and need effort and time for true healing. People should not brush over or cover horrors from the past due to embarrassment. People need commemoration and justice. There is also an argument some people have about how they do not pick which family lineage that they are born to. So they do not have to make up for wrong doings that their ancestors made.

I also related how the family tried selling the pictures for profit and not to educate or to to try to make right to the museum we visited. We talked about how we felt the museum was artificial and was not personal at all. I feel like institutions try to make profit then really trying to educate people and to commemorate victims.

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