Above: An actor, writer, director, and rapper, Morningstar Angeline directs the Santa Fe Playhouse's production of The Thanksgiving Play. Photograph by Ungelbah Dávila-Shivers.

THE THANKSGIVING PLAY WANTS TO OPEN your mind beyond turkey, football, and the beginning of holiday shopping season. It tells the truth about the American holiday—that it’s a celebration of colonization and a painful day for Native communities. Written by Indigenous playwright Larissa FastHorse (Sicangu Lakota Nation), The Thanksgiving Play follows a group of white educators as they attempt to create a “woke” Thanksgiving play for their students.

The satirical comedy, which makes its New Mexico premiere at the Santa Fe Playhouse October 28 through November 20, is directed by Morningstar Angeline (Navajo, Chippewa Cree, Blackfeet, Shoshone, and Latinx). “It’s written in a way that can hold up a mirror for any of us,” Angeline says. “I genuinely feel like everyone can gain something from this play, in terms of understanding how we show up for other people, and how we act in our allyship.”  

What makes Santa Fe the perfect audience for this play?

Santa Fe is a place where Western culture and space meets Indigenous culture and space. I was born in Santa Fe, and I know it’s a very exploitive place for Indigenous people. There’s such a romanticization and fascination with Indigenous culture and aesthetics. It really muddies what those things are and the meaning behind them. Santa Fe is a ripe place for this play to really hit the punches and land with the audience in a way that will make them think, and shift in their seats.

Why does the audience need to shift in their seats?

I value art that makes me uncomfortable, and we tend to value work that keeps us comfortable. In this play, we see people genuinely work through word vomit, and there’s something beautiful in watching people do that. There is this push for us to always be our presentable best self. The beauty of this is you see people make huge mistakes, and then try to correct. That’s what we do, so hopefully this gives people permission to stumble, and then to come back from that. To move on. If we’re really trying to build relationships, we have to be able to make mistakes and then move on from there.

What do you hope people walk away with?

Hopefully people will go home with plenty to marinate on, the stuff between the lines and the reflection that needs to happen there. You jump into this story with these characters, and you feel like you’re a part of the conversation. The audience is going to feel like they’re witnessing something private, something that hopefully they can see themselves in. It certainly isn’t like an interactive spooky house, but it’s supposed to feel natural and not to overwhelm. We don’t want people to be exhausted, but we do want them to laugh and to laugh at themselves. It’s built on intimacy.

Story Sidebar

The Thanksgiving Play
Santa Fe Playhouse
142 E. DeVargas Street, Santa Fe; 505-988-4262
Thursday–Saturday 7:30 p.m., Sunday 2:30 p.m.