Review: In ‘The Thanksgiving Play,’ Who Gets to Tell the Story?

The rehearsal room is an embarrassing place. Actors are jockeys, directors make a fuss, writers resent their stolen freedoms.

All of this can be seen in the rehearsal room.thanksgiving play‘ is set, but what is being rehearsed is a holiday pageant for elementary school students. But it’s more than just a holiday pageant. Intended to “lift” the Native American perspective, despite not including any Native Americans, the piece twists the drama teachers creating it, along with their colleagues, into a performance wake-up pretzel. , forever disgusting.

If “Thanksgiving Play,” which premiered Thursday at the Helen Hayes Theater, sounds like a behind-the-scenes farce similar to “Peter Pan Goes Long,” which premiered the day before, it is. In both plays, everyone is misbehaving, tempers flare up, and nothing goes right.

But for Larissa FastHorse, author of “The Thanksgiving Play,” farce is not an end in itself. Rather, it’s a hilarious envelope in which she delivers a brutal satire about mythmaking, and in some ways about theater itself. It can do a lot of harm, she shows. And so can well-meaning people.

Well-intentioned people in this case include Logan (Katie Finneran) and Jackson (Scott Foley). -Job actors (except for gigs at farmers markets). They share pronouns even if they don’t get it. Jaxton even boasts that he used “they” for a year.

In short, these are silly numbers, but they’re not so silly as to be unrecognizable. They also don’t like Rachel Chavkin’s hilarious novelty at Second Stage Theatre. Finneran, who turns Logan’s anxieties into a parade of comictics and uncertain outbursts, is affable and even sympathetic to her attempts at justice, no matter how wrong they are. and eccentrics his masculinity only as a sort of tantric come-on, but Foley does it so well that the character is somehow endearing.

It’s their bad traits more than their good intentions that offend you. Logan has hired a wide-eyed elementary history teacher named Kaden (Chris Sullivan) as the pageant’s de facto backstop, but mostly ignores him. (Sullivan renders puppy-like disappointment beautifully.) And under the terms of “Native American Heritage Monthly Recognition by Art Grant,” her casting of Alicia (Darcy Carden) representing the Native American experience includes: , which turned out to be seriously flawed. Alicia, the Los Angeles actor, her third stand-in for Jasmine at Disneyland, and a “very flexible” ethnic type, isn’t her American in the slightest.

Nonetheless, FastHorse’s set-up is so clever, and her clever twist of the knife of awakened logic, that Alicia is our hero, if anyone. Partly because she’s the only one who isn’t bothered by her whiteness. (She defends the casting by pointing out that the actor who played Lumiere in “Beauty and the Beast” isn’t even a real candlestick.) Actual strengths. “I know how people can stare at me and not look away,” she explains (and Carden demonstrates convincingly). Also good at crying.

In captivating moments like these, FastHorse successfully sets up the tension between identity and identity performance — she doesn’t resolve it, but upgrades it into a full-blown paradox over the course of her play. By the time Logan, Jackson, and Kaden remain writhing in agony, as if under a moral microscope, “We see color, but we can’t talk about it. Ultimately they came to the conclusion that the only way to keep the indigenous peoples at center stage was to make them disappear.

Of course they’ve already been erased — repeat. Member of Fast Horse Sichang Lakota Nation South Dakota. Unfortunately, these segments are based on Thanksgiving projects posted online by real teachers. In one, adorable young children performing “Her Nine Days of Thanksgiving” are made to list the “six indigenous teepees” that the Indians “gifted” to the pilgrims, among many others. It is In another, her fifth grader shooting a turkey with a prop musket said, “One little Indian was left alone / He went out and hanged himself, but there was no one ” and sings a song with the lyrics.

In the play’s well-acted but somewhat diffuse premiere in 2018’s Playwrights Horizons, the film’s sequences weren’t too badass or violent. For Broadway, they (and the production as a whole, including the set by Ricardo Hernandez) are gaining momentum to emphasize the importance of indoctrination between adults who need to know better and children who don’t. is important to the play’s project of undoing centuries of racist mythologization, but the thought of the young performers made me feel a little sick. ?

But nausea may be exactly what FastHorse is aiming for. she told the publication American Theater She often thinks about “rhythm and release” in her writing. She said, “When you take drugs, you make sugar, and when you take drugs, you make sugar.”

This cycle, repeated several times over the course of 90 minutes, is enhanced by Chavkin’s pacing and can lead to an upset stomach, although it can make you laugh. , you may lose track of your emotions.nevertheless, suddenly The bloody tale of the Pequot Massacre If enacted on stage, you might find yourself agreeing with Logan out of all. From turkeys to pilgrims, I wanted to deny it completely.

But “Thanksgiving Play” is not primarily a synopsis for fixing American history. Much like Tracy Letts’ “The Minutes” revealed the horrific carnage hidden in the public spectacle, FastHorse is a reminder that new information (new only to some) will lead us to the future. I’m interested in how you change the story you tell. The first step, judged by the crew of idiots on stage, is to change the storyteller, Fast Horse being the first Native American woman known to have staged a play on Broadway.

thanksgiving play
Until June 4th at the Helen Hayes Theater in Manhattan. 2st.comPerformance time: 1 hour 30 minutes.

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