A hot-topic comedy by Larissa FastHorse
The Thanksgiving Play
Directed by Jeanie Smith
Good intentions collide with absurd assumptions in this wickedly funny satire.
Ah, Thanksgiving, that most American of holidays: when families gather to celebrate the warmth of home, the bounty of the harvest — and a legacy of genocide and violent colonial expansion. A troupe of terminally “woke” teaching artists scrambles to create a pageant that somehow celebrates both Turkey Day and Native American Heritage Month.
Logan: Denise Elia
Jaxton: David Yen
Caden: Mike Schaeffer
Alicia: Grace Kent
Director: Jeanie K. Smith
Stage Manager: Jeff Basham
Lighting Designer: April George
Set/Video Design: Argo Thompson
Costume Designer: Sandra Ish
Sound Designer: Joe Winkler
Remote SM: Brooke Dengler
Props: Vicki Martinez
Produced by special arrangement with:
SAMUEL FRENCH PUBLISHING
Time and Place:
A high school drama classroom anywhere but the Los Angeles area.
David YenHappy to be back at Left Edge, David was last seen here in The Nether. Other favorite roles include Ed Boone in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Spreckels Theatre Company), Scott Bader in Faceless (6th Street Playhouse), and Stanhope in Journey’s End (Ross Valley Players). He has won the BATCC award for excellence several times for his work as an actor, and is also a critically acclaimed director—his last work on the other side of the stage was the sold-out Drumming With Anubis (Left Edge). Next up will be Fagin in Oliver! Follow him at www.DavidLYen.com
Denise Elia - YenDenise Elia-Yen (Logan) - Denise is an award-winning actress and director with 30+ years of experience including performances on stage and screen on both coasts and in theatre festivals abroad. She received back-to-back Principal Actress in a Musical awards from the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle for her portrayals of Annie Oakley in ANNIE GET YOUR GUN and Elizabeth Benning in MEL BROOKS' YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN THE MUSICAL, among several nominations over years. Her productions have also received SFBATCC and Theatre Bay Area awards and nominations for their set, lighting, and sound designs. Denise most recently portrayed Little Sally in URINETOWN at Spreckels Theatre Company, and she is delighted to make her debut with Left Edge. She received her B.F.A. in Theatre Performance and B.A. in Italian at the Center for the Arts, S.U.N.Y. at Buffalo, New York.
Grace KentGrace Kent resides on the land of the Me-Wuk and Southern Pomo. This is her first appearance with Left Edge Theatre and she is thrilled to be a part of this particular production featuring the visionary Larissa Fasthorse’s work. She has appeared in live productions since the 1st grade and has yet to outgrow her love of the theater. Grace spent her older years acting at Santa Rosa Junior College and later on transferred to Southern Oregon University receiving a Bachelors in Theater Arts and a minor in Gender Studies. She was first immersed in Native American studies at University where she participated in an Indigenous Queer Studies class and social gathering, she learned about decolonization and surivance of the Native communities in the Americas. She has dabbled in many other roles of the stage including director, producer, choreographer, aerial silks coordinator, and burlesque artist. Some of her favorite acting credits include: Woman 2 in Every Concentrated Fragment (Sixth Street Women Playwrights Festival), Camille in Horse Girls (Southern Oregon University), Thea in Spring Awakening (Southern Oregon University), Chava in Cherry Orchard (Santa Rosa Junior College) and Natalie in Distracted (Santa Rosa Junior College).
Jeanie SmithJeanie K. Smith has been active in the Bay Area theatre community for over 30 years, as director, dramaturg, acting coach, designer, performer, and reviewer, and is a member of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle, Marquee Theatre Journalists Association, Stage Directors & Choreographers, and American Theatre Critics Association. Jeanie holds a Ph.D. in Drama from University of Washington and has trained with Paul Richards, Gerald Hiken, Corey Fischer, Jay Manley, and Ed Hooks, among others. Her scholarly writing appears in numerous journals and anthologies (as Jeanie Forte) and her directing has garnered the Dean Goodman Choice Award, several South Bay Small Theatre awards and Theatre Bay Area Award nominations. Jeanie currently resides in Sonoma County with her husband and their adorable rescue Chihuahuas.
Mike SchaefferMIKE SCHAEFFER earned a B.F.A. in acting from Carnegie-Mellon University, studying with Mel Shapiro, Elizabeth Orion, Lee Sankowich and Billy Porter. Most recently, he played Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks in Lucky Penny’s production of ANNIE. North Bay audiences may remember Mike as “ Denny” in Left Edge Theaters critically acclaimed A STEADY RAIN (Winner, Best Drama Production, Marquee Theater Journalists), directed by Argo Thompson. Previously, he was seen in "Beyond Therapy" (Stuart), "Bonnie & Clyde" (Frank Hamer) and "Funny Girl" (Ziegfeld) at Lucky Penny Productions and Sixth Street Playhouse. Local audiences may also remember Mike from his critically acclaimed performance as Edward IV, and the murderer Tyrell in Richard III, at Marin Shakespeare. Off-Broadway credits include THEATREWORKS USA PRESENTS TREASURE ISLAND as Long John Silver. OFF-OFF BROADWAY includes "The Boys from Syracuse", "Witness for the Prosecution", "Bliss", "The Blackbird" and "The Diviners". Regional credits include Virginia Stage Company, Virginia Opera, Marin Shakespeare Company, Virginia Musical Theater, La Comedia, Pittsburgh Public Theater, City Theater, Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival and The New Group Theater. Film and TV includes, "The Silence of the Lambs", "Friday the 13th, Part 3","Collisions" "Love Kills", "Wicked Attractions", "FBI: Criminal Pursuit", "Christine at the Crossroads", "The Last Hit", "Criminal Justice" & "Battlestar Galactica". He co-wrote the award-winning screenplay for "The Audition" and an original screenplay, "Psychotronic FM", to be directed by Scott Hansen. Mike was an acting instructor at Marin Shakespeare, Point Park College and the prestigious Governors School for the Arts in Virginia and has a BFA in theater studies from Carnegie-Mellon University. Love to Holly.
The Cast & Crew
To all our friends and family, subscribers and donors, and:
Dr. Brenda Flyswithhawks, Ph.D. - Tsalági Eastern Cherokee
Psychology Professor, Santa Rosa Junior College
Jesse Peter Multicultural Museum and Rachel Minor, Museum Supervisor/Curator, Santa Rosa Junior College
Permission to use “Walkin’” and “Why Don’t We Fall in Love” @2020 granted by
Paul Steward and Rich Steward, Twice As Good Blues Band - 2XG, www.twiceasgood.org
Indigenous peoples have lived in Sonoma Valley for 12,000 years - read about it here:
A great map of indigenous lands along with lots of educational resources: https://native-land.ca/
An interview with Larissa FastHorse about the play and more:
An excellent article, and good summary of The Thanksgiving Play at the bottom, along with another video of FastHorse: https://sites.google.com/nyu.edu/contemporaryplaywrightsofcolor/larissa-fasthorse
FastHorse’s website: http://www.hoganhorsestudio.com/about-larissa
Larissa FastHorse on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larissa_FastHorse
Wikipedia’s entry on The National Day of Mourning:
History on five Native American women for your dark day perusal:
Sonoma County resources for local Native American tribes and culture:
The Jesse Peter Multicultural Museum, located on the campus of Santa Rosa Junior College, has a collection of more than 5,000 catalogued items, with traditional Native American art comprising the greatest portion, including ceramics, basketry, beadwork, sculpture, textiles and jewelry. The collection is recognized as the finest of its kind in the U.S. Exhibits may also include contemporary work, such as the “Beyond Stereotypes” exhibit in 2019 that showcased Native American comic book artistry. See the videos in the PRESHOW PRESENTATION, and visit the virtual exhibits on the website at: https://museum.santarosa.edu/
Special thanks to curator Rachel Minor and SRJC for permission to use their videos.
The California Indian Basketweavers’ Association (CIBA) is a non-profit organization established in 1992, providing its 1000+ members with opportunities for information sharing and showcasing their work throughout the state. In June 2020 CIBA won a grant from California Humanities for their K.N.O.T. project (“Knowledge to Nurture Our Traditions”), which aims to increase basketweaving knowledge in the Indian community, especially through connecting elders with tribal youth. Learn more about their mission and programs here: https://ciba.org/
The Pomo Project, an ongoing tribute to the Pomo tribe in Sonoma County launched in Sebastopol in 2010, continues to celebrate Pomo culture with educational workshops, gallery exhibits, and recognition of Native history and contemporary contributions. In May 2010, the Sebastopol City Council resolved each October to be Pomo Honoring Month, celebrating the continued presence and enduring culture of the Pomo people. The Council further resolved in September 2010 to recognize the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria as representing the descendants of our area’s original inhabitants. To learn more about the Pomo Project, see here: https://www.pomoproject.org/
While it’s currently closed due to the pandemic, the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center is alive and well via their extensive website. Founded in San Francisco in 1996, the Museum has been in Santa Rosa for 20 years, with goals to educate the public about California Indian history and cultures, to showcase California Indian cultures, to enhance and facilitate these cultures and traditions through educational and cultural activities, to preserve and protect California Indian cultural and intellectual properties, and to develop relationships with other indigenous groups. The Museum was developed by the National Indian Justice Center, a 100% Indian owned and operated nonprofit corporation. Originally founded in 1983 as a resource for tribal courts, the NIJC has steadily expanded its mission and is now known as a major force for improving the quality of life and the quality of justice in Indian country. See the website at: https://cimcc.org/
Larissa FastHorse (Sicangu Lakota Nation) is an award winning writer and co-founder of Indigenous Direction. Her satirical comedy, The Thanksgiving Play (Playwrights Horizons/Geffen Playhouse), is one of the top ten most produced plays in America this season. She is the first Native American playwright in the history of American theater on that list. Additional produced plays include What Would Crazy Horse Do? (KCRep), Landless and Cow Pie Bingo (AlterTheater), Average Family (Children’s Theater Company of Minneapolis), Teaching Disco Squaredancing to Our Elders: a Class Presentation (Native Voices at the Autry), Vanishing Point (Eagle Project), and Cherokee Family Reunion (Mountainside Theater).