ELAC professor directs ‘Appropriate’ play

HAUNTED HOUSE — A ghostly scene features actors Clifton Smith and Zadie Cannon in ìAppropriate,î written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and directed by Rodney Lloyd Scott. Courtesy of Francois-Pierre Couture

By Steven Adamo

Known for doing plays that excite the audience, director and ELAC professor Rodney Lloyd Scott is trying something more personal in his latest play, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ “Appropriate,” closing Sunday.

“This story was close to me because it’s about racism,” Scott said. “Racism is real and certain people run into it daily. I’ve kind of shied away from it in theater because it’s a touchy subject, but I wanted people to know that I know racism is real. I know that it still exists. It did not die with the KKK.”

Scott took some creative liberties with the casting in “Appropriate,” using two black artists in addition to the normal cast of all white actors.

“It resonates more with blacks and the history of things that went on here in America, all the way from the first slave castles to the civil rights movement, to all the black killings that are going on in the communities today,” Scott said.

Charlene Hazelton, one of the patrons from last week’s showing, said the play had “keen sounds of the south.” Sounds like “cicadas chirping, thunderous storms, and a creaking ramshackle house… what ensues is entertaining, frenetic and deeply unsettling,” Hazelton said.

The sound and lighting that Hazelton refers to is done by Nathan Davis and Francois-Pierre Couture.

Scott got his first opportunity to direct and to teach at a college because of Kelly Hogan, ELAC professor and director, whose most recent play was 2018’s “The Comedy Of Errors” by William Shakespeare.

Aside from ELAC, Scott also teaches theater at Compton College, Garfield High School and Compton High School.

Scott sometimes enlists former students to work on his newest plays, like Mark Vallejo, who was a student of his at Garfield High School. Vallejo went to ELAC before graduating from Long Beach State and becoming the assistant director to Scott on the 2016 play “Den of Thieves.”

“Now he’s in the graduate program for directing at UCLA, and I brought him back to choreograph my fight scene,” Scott said.

Rodney Lloyd Scott

Scott said that “Appropriate” will benefit students from multiple studies. “Anyone that takes African-American History here at ELAC, or any history class for that matter, or anyone that takes sociology– this should be a must for extra credit,” Scott said, “because it hits on so many different issues that people are in denial of.”

“Appropriate” continues tomorrow at 8 p.m., Friday at 2 p.m and 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the P2 Proscenium Theater. Tickets are $12 at the door, $10 for general and $8 with an ASU discount, and can be purchased in P2-101A.

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