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The Black Box Theater Makes its Return with “The Thanksgiving Play”

The Black Box Theater Makes its Return with “The Thanksgiving Play”

After two years, “Thanksgiving” will be the first show held in the Black Box Theatre since the pandemic. The play was written by Larissa FastHorse, who is a part of the Sicangu Lakota Nation and is an indigenous person. The play focuses on four white teachers who work together to attempt to create a play about the first Thanksgiving for elementary school children. 

It is a political satire, so it looks to address different topics, such as the white-washing of history and performative “woke-ness’.’ There is a relatively small cast, as there are only four main characters. Natka Bianchini, a professor in the Loyola Theatre department and director, chose this play for a few different reasons.

“The play tackles some really weighty subjects, in terms of racism and the history of genocide, but it puts it in the format of an interesting comedy,” Bianchini said. ”So I think it could be really thought-provoking, but also a fun, good time. I also liked the small cast size, so everyone has a good part and can work together well.”

“Thanksgiving” is unique compared to other productions, as it has a digital, pre-recorded portion of the show. The digital actors worked to create scenes that emulated the typical types of Thanksgiving-related activities teachers use in elementary school classrooms. Julia Case ’24 was a part of the digital scenes cast and described what they looked like and how they related to the play.

Case said, “The digital scenes are actually real videos from YouTube or other websites that real schools have made based on Thanksgiving…the actors that are involved are looking at these clips to write their play within the play.” 

These scenes are pre-recorded and will be incorporated throughout the physical play. The in-person actors have put in a lot of work to perfect this show and make sure the messages can be grasped by the audience. 

The characters they play are funny and make fun of certain stereotypes. Bella Masso ’25 plays Alicia, who is the actress that Logan, the teacher in charge of the play, brings in from out of town to act in their production.

Masso said, “I am interested in seeing people’s reactions, as it does address important issues.” 

Ange Dickinson ’25 plays Caden, who is an elementary school teacher who specializes in American history and is brought in by Logan to be the historian. Dickinson mentioned that it is important to know that Caden is white.

Dickinson said, “He gives an academic perspective, but it is a white academic perspective, which unfortunately is where a lot of academia tends to lie.” 

In addition, Dickinson talked about playing a white cis-gender male, while they are genderqueer and half-Filipino, so it is challenging for them to take this role on.

I was able to go to a portion of a rehearsal last week, but this week is “tech week” for the performers. “Tech week” refers to the week of rehearsals leading up to the opening of the show. This process is grueling, as a lot of time and energy goes into making the show the best it can be for audiences. 

“We start to add all the technical things, like costumes, makeup, and props. It can be a very magical time because we can watch it all come together, but also a really stressful time,” Masso said. “Theater is not complete until it is put in front of an audience, which makes opening night so exciting and makes all the work worth it.” 

“The Thanksgiving Play” premieres this Thursday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. They also have showings on Oct. 28 at 8 p.m., Oct. 29 at 2 p.m and 8 p.m, and Oct. 30 at 2 p.m. 

You can get tickets for any of the showings at the on-campus Box Office or on Ticketmaster.

Featured Image Courtesy of Abby MacLeod.

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The Black Box Theater Makes its Return with “The Thanksgiving Play”