Company of Fools’ 25th annual theatrical season has had some false starts, with shutdowns and gathering restrictions putting a pause on what should have been a landmark anniversary celebration.
As much as 2020 has been a year of cancellations, it has also seen many arts organizations adapting and reimagining, and the Hailey-based theater company is no exception.
Company of Fools will finally, officially kick off its 25th season this weekend with two free rehearsed readings of Larissa FastHorse’s acclaimed satirical comedy “The Thanksgiving Play.”
Core Company Artists Andrew Alburger and Claudia McCain are sharing the director’s chair for the reading, which stars local theater mainstays Chris Carwithen, Melodie Taylor-Mauldin, Aly Wepplo and Company of Fools founding member Joel Vilinsky.
“The Thanksgiving Play” follows a mismatched team of teachers and actors who have been commissioned to develop an ethnically sensitive high school play that celebrates both Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage Month. Tiptoeing through their own perceptions of “political correctness,” the three white actors defer to the only Native American in the room for guidance, only to find that her insights and their expectations of her insights do not align.
FastHorse sets her sights on cultural stereotypes, misguided attempts at sensitivity and inclusivity, white privilege and racism. She set herself the challenge of writing a play where the cast is either white or could be mistaken as white, but that still deals with themes of Native American identity in the contemporary United States.
“‘The Thanksgiving Play’ is a funny, satirical look at how in this age of trying to learn to be appropriate (or PC), we frequently find ourselves going too far the other way,” FastHorse said, quoted in a Company of Fools press release. “The play shows us how far we have to go to understand the struggles of BIPOC communities, in this case those of Native Americans. Most of us as white people, particularly of a certain generation, have been taught to have viewpoints that don’t always reflect the truth. It is more important that we be factually correct than politically correct.”
Company of Fools’ productions will stream via Crowdcast at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 27 and 28. Both events are free to watch.
After the reading, the artists will be in conversation with Randy Reinholz, founder and producing artistic director emeritus of Native Voices at the Autry Museum of the American West.
To register for free, visit svmoa.org or call 208-726-9491.