Wednesday, November 25, 2020
‘The Thanksgiving Play’ Brings Company of Fools Back to the Stage
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Saturday, November 7, 2020
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

It’s been nine months since Company of Fools last took the stage, presenting “The Niceties.”

But the theater company couldn’t let its 25th season go completely dark, pandemic or not.

So, get ready for a rehearsed reading of “The Thanksgiving Play,”

The Fools will offer two in-person readings at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 27-28, moved from its previous time of Nov. 20-21. (Simultaneous livestreams of the 90-minute reading will be offered, as well.

Tickets to both the in-person and livestream performances are free, although donations will be welcome. They’re available at https:svmoa.org or 208-726-9491.

A satirical comedy by playwright and Sicangu Lakota member Larissa FastHorse, “The Thanksgiving Play” is one of the top 10 most produced plays in America.

It’s set in a high school drama classroom where a group of mismatched teachers and actors are trying to stage an ethnically sensitive play that celebrates Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage Month.

One teacher wants so bad for everyone to feel part of the collaboration that it derails the play. Another teacher has dramatic aspirations but no clue how things work on stage. A surfer actor’s political correct thinking takes work weird turns. And then there’s the Native American….

In attempt to be respectful, the white actors defer to the Native American to find that their expectations of her insights are wildly misguided. They must thread a thicket of assumptions, historical perspectives and school district policies to bring the absurd pageant to the stage.

In doing so, they subtly bring to the forefront ways that Americans in the past and even today have inaccurately portrayed Native Americans.

FastHorse worked as a ballet dancer and in film and television before moving into theatre where she has written and produced numerous plays involving issues with indigenous people in American society. “The Thanksgiving Play” premiered in 2018 at Playwrights Horizons, Inc., in New York City.

FastHorse said “The Thanksgiving Play” is a satirical look at how, in the age of trying to be politically correct, we frequently find ourselves going too far the other way. It’s more important to be factually correct than politically correct, she added.

“The play is something I really love and it says so many of the things I’ve always wanted to say in the world,” said FastHorse. “I think it truly is what it’s like to be me walking through the world today as an Indigenous woman. It’s exactly what I experience, only what I actually experience is worse. I think if we wrote down everything I’ve experienced as an Indigenous person in this country just walking down the street, it would be such a depressing tragedy that no one would want to watch it. Instead, I made it a comedy, within a satire, to make it a little more fun for everybody.”

Company of Fool Core Artists Andrew Alburger and Claudia McCain will co-direct the reading. The others involved are Chris Carwithen, Melodie Taylor-Mauldin, Aly Wepplo and Joel Vilinsky.

Immediately after the reading, there will be a conversation with the artists. Facilitating the conversation will be Randy Reinholz, founder and producing artistic director emeritus of Native Voices at the Autry Museum of the American West and an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

“The Thanksgiving Play” is sponsored by Hailey residents Don and Marcia Liebich.

 

 

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