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SCR Plays up the ‘Repertory’ Concept, Pairing Two Similar-themed Plays as ‘Voices of America’

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

From left, Jess Andrews, Hunter Spangler, Shannon Cochran, Tessa Auberjonois, Jamison Jones and Lea Coco in SCR's 2023 Voices of America production of "Appropriate" by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Credit: Photo courtesy of South Coast Repertory/Jenny Graham

While South Coast Repertory was in the process of creating its 2023 season, David Ivers, SCR’s artistic director, decided that the opening slot on this year’s schedule could and should be occupied by two plays that cover similar dramatic territory and explore many of the same themes.

Never in its nearly 60-year history has SCR attempted anything so ambitious, so you can be sure patrons – plus anyone else with an interest in theater – will have their eyes on the Costa Mesa venue in the coming weeks.

“The Little Foxes” and “Appropriate” will run on alternating nights, underscoring the “repertory” in the company’s name. Six actors have major roles in both shows. Each show has its own director, but one set design is in place for both.

Owing to the plays’ similarities and the origins of their authors, the double-bill is being called “Voices of America,” and Ivers is promising “an experience nobody’s ever had before.”

Even if we take that statement with a grain of salt, or view it as hyperbole, you have to admit that the concept is intriguing and its scope ambitious and perhaps even audacious.

“The Little Foxes,” which premiered in 1939, was written by Lillian Hellman, a 20th-century Renaissance woman of letters. “Appropriate,” from 2014, is by Branden Jenkins-Jacobs, a hot commodity in terms of current U.S. playwrights (he writes for television, is showrunner and writer for the Hulu on FX series “Kindred,” and is a MacArthur Fellow).

Both shows are three-act plays, which means Jenkins-Jacobs deliberately harkened back to the era in American culture when an evening of theater literally occupied an entire evening. Taking on either play would require considerable attention, resources and talent; staging both simultaneously amounts to what can, at the least, rightfully be called an epic endeavor.

The ambitious undertaking is also historic: Never in SCR’s history has it produced two separate plays on the same stage combined into one unified production.

This full story can be accessed for free in its entirety at Voice of OC.



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