Red Herring Theater: The Thanksgiving Play

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

By Romi Azulay

Every year, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with turkey and stuffing, with perhaps a thought of Native Americans briefly glancing their minds. Perhaps. Mark Mann and Michael Herring of Red Herring theater acknowledge these two separate angles of the holiday in their rendition of The Thanksgiving Play. The two creators joined Craft and guest host Elizabeth Falter to discuss their process. 

You think about eating and watching football.

Guest host Elizabeth Falter

The story by Larissa Fasthorse, a Native American playwright, centers around four white Americans trying to create a Thanksgiving play that is inclusive and politically correct, but are stalled by the fact that they do not know any Native Americans. Mann, the director of the play, explains Fasthorse granted him a strong message to build off. “All I had to do was help guide the performances toward the end zone,” Mann explained. “You let the human characters in the play create a situation in which the themes kind of sneak up on an audience member.”

Michael Herring described their journey and goals in trying to portray a message through theater. “Our mission is to produce plays that are profound- we like to make people think; provocative- we like to stimulate dialogue and debate,;professional- our production values are top notch.”

While they are serious about their work, they know how to have fun as well. Much of the play’s humor  “derives from these very earnest people trying to create something that’s over their heads,” Mann explained. “I don’t think there was a night in rehearsal that we all didn’t burst into laughter.”

You can find more information and purchase tickets to the play at The play runs through November 21.

About Doug Dangler

Current: Host of Craft on WCBE, 90.5 FM, central Ohio's NPR station. Former: creator, host, and producer of Writers Talk
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