Thanksgiving Play Begins Performances this Month
Words and Images Courtesy of the Virginia Stage Company
Norfolk, VA - When a collection of teachers are challenged to write a play about the History of Thanksgiving, hilarity and challenging questions ensue in Larissa FastHorse’s (Sicangu Lakota) gripping comedy The Thanksgiving Play to open at The Historic Wells Theatre (108 E. Tazewell Street, Norfolk VA) from January 22nd to February 6th.
When well-meaning and slightly radical educator Logan is challenged to create a play about the origin of Thanksgiving, she recruits her yoga-loving boyfriend Jaxton to assist her and fellow history teacher Caden in writing an educational play about the origins of Thanksgiving, and addressing the perspectives of the Native Americans not heard in the story’s original telling. After Logan’s failed past educational productions, parent outcry threatens her job if the play doesn’t go well, so with the help of a grant she recruits Alicia, an “authentic” Native American actor from L.A. to lend her “unique perspective in the development of this play. Through a series of witty jokes, quick wit, and only slightly-veiled probing questions; Larissa FastHourse (Sicangu Lakota) asks the audience how we have told a story for so long without asking the very people this story was about.
Larissa FastHorse (Sicangu Lakota) workshopped this masterclass production in satirical performance at UC Berkeley in 2015 following it’s writing and inception in Ireland as part of the Joe Dowling Fellowship. It was then workshopped in Portland, Oregon at the Artists Repertory Theatre before making it’s way to a world premier with The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis in November 2019. In an interview with The Interval before the world premier of the production, Larissa shared her insights on the process and importance of the work:
“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. So instead, I made a comedy, within a satire, to make it a little more fun for everybody. [In the play] we have some very well-meaning liberal white folks that are in charge of creating this play that’s supposed to be for children. It’s supposed to be educational and enlightening and progressive, and all the good things for Native American Heritage Month and Thanksgiving—and, for me, it’s always ironic that we have Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage Month at the same time. It’s always been fascinating to me that we have this really problematic holiday that’s supposedly celebrating Native American people and coming together, but in reality, A.) everything we’ve learned about it is a fiction, and B.) the potential true origins of Thanksgiving are incredibly gruesome and really horrible and have nothing to do with peace and happiness, and they’re actually about genocide. So obviously that means comedy. I hope what these folks that I’m actually talking about in my play take away from it is this: let’s just all make the mistake together, let’s all be ridiculous together, and then that gives us somewhere to go. If I know where you’re coming from, you know where I’m coming from, and you can make mistakes, and I can make mistakes, and we can all get kind of crazy and yell at each other, but keep moving forward, that’s going to change everything. It truly will.”
Jessica Holt (Sense & Sensibility, Fun Home, Venus in Fur) returns to VSC after most recently directing a virtual devised piece called Something Delightful at a time when audiences could not gather. The creative team also includes Charlotte Bydwell (choreographer), Edward Morris (scenic designer), An-lin Dauber (costume designer), David Castaneda (lighting designer), and Michael Costagliola (sound designer). Several familiar faces join this intimate four-person cast, including local actors Ryan Clemens (Christmas Carol, Guys & Dolls, Matilda) and Julian Stetkevych (Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice). The two local actors, playing Jaxton and Caden respectively, join two talented out of town actresses making their Virginia Stage Company debut, Lauren Blumenfled and Jenny Hickman take on the challenging roles of Logan and Alicia.
Virginia Stage Company is requiring proof of vaccinations or a negative PCR COVID Test Result administered within 72 hours of entry to its productions. Only results provided by an FDA approved PCR test from a Medical Healthcare Professional, Lab, or Pharmacy will be accepted. Images of the front and back of the card will be accepted in lieu of the physical card, and masks will be required of all guests and individuals present in the space. For a full list of our entry procedures, please visit www.vastage.org/entry.
Performances of The Thanksgiving Play are scheduled Wednesday - Saturday at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 2pm and Sundays at 3pm at The Historic Wells Theatre, located at 108 E. Tazewell Street, Norfolk Va. Tickets range from $25 - $68. Subscription packages for Virginia Stage Company include a four show package starting at $120.00, or our flexible Theatre on Demand Packages starting at $196.00. Season Ticket holders receive numerous benefits, including 20% savings on every show, unlimited exchanges with no exchange fees, and additional discounts for in-house concessions and drinks. Tickets are currently available.
Subscription packages and single tickets are on sale by calling the Box Office at (757) 627-1234 Monday through Friday from 10am - 5pm or visiting https://tickets.vastage.org/packages
Virginia Stage Company is Southeastern Virginia’s leading theatre destination, serving an audience of over 58,000 annually, both at the Wells Theatre and throughout the community. Virginia Stage Company’s mission is to “enrich, educate, and entertain the region by creating and producing theatrical art of the highest quality.”