JACKSON, Wyo. — Off Square Theatre is proud to present Larissa FastHorse’s The Thanksgiving Play, in which “[t]he familiar, whitewashed story of Pilgrims and Native Americans chowing down together gets a delicious roasting from expert farceurs.” – The New York Times
High school drama teacher Logan is desperate to save her career. Always ready to rock the boat, she is now facing a petition that calls for her termination. With the help of several educational and cultural awareness grants, she brings together three actors that will devise a play about the first Thanksgiving. Or Native American Heritage Month. Or just November in general. With yoga instructor and boyfriend Jaxton, elementary teacher Caden, and professional actress Alicia, Logan is out to save her career and tell a culturally conscious story about what it means to be Native American…even though all of the performers are white.
The Thanksgiving Play holds a satirical mirror up to the ironic interplay between performative wokeness and the erasure of marginalized identities. Playwright Larissa FastHorse is an award-winning writer and 2020-2025 MacArthur Fellow. Her satirical comedy, The Thanksgiving Play (Playwrights Horizons/Geffen Playhouse), was one of the top ten most produced plays in America. She is the first Native American playwright in the history of American theater on that list. “Over-striving to do the right thing and not screw up and not make a mistake creates this weird paralysis where real change doesn’t actually happen. Real change is messy and difficult, and has all kinds of mistakes and all kinds of problems and hurts feelings. And then we find our way through it,” says Larissa FastHorse in a 2019 interview with Tonya Mosley on WBUR’s Here & Now. “My superpower is to translate Indigenous culture and experience to a white audience…and hopefully create some empathy and interest in learning.”
The Thanksgiving Play runs November 5-7 and 11-13 at the Center for the Arts. Tickets can be purchased here. Off Square Theatre is partnering with the Wyoming Humanities Council to present additional programming surrounding the play’s performances. On November 9 at 6:30pm, a screening of Home From School: The Children of Carlisle will be free to the public in the Center Theater, followed by a talkback with the filmmakers and a reception. In addition to the screening, Off Square will be hosting a post-show conversation with artist Robert Martinez (winner of the 2019 Governor’s Arts Awards for visual arts) and scholar Ashley Reis after the November 7 matinee.
Home From School: The Children of Carlisle tells the story of a 2017 Northern Arapaho delegation traveling from the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to retrieve their children buried there a century ago. With the unearthing of the remains, the film journeys through the troubled legacy of Indian boarding schools and follows the brave efforts of these native peoples as they seek to heal historic wounds.
The Thanksgiving Play and additional programming are made possible with support from the Wyoming Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Wyoming Arts Council, and the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole.