We hear a lot about “wokeness” in the world of national politics these days. It’s usually pretty serious stuff, with each side slamming the other for either having too much of it, or not having enough. But what happens when you broach that thorny subject with everyday people?

Find out what makes the wokeness debate funny as Key West’s Red Barn Theatre stages “The Thanksgiving Play” Tuesdays through Saturdays March 5-30.

The play was written by Larissa Fasthorse, the first female Native American playwright to have a show on Broadway when it premiered at the Helen Hayes Theatre in New York. It won a Drama League Award in 2023.

The premise is simple: A group of white theater nerds meets in an elementary school classroom to assemble a dramatic rendition of the Thanksgiving story for their young students – the one we’ve always been told about the Pilgrims, the “Indians,” the turkey and the corn, or maize. But when the supposedly Indigenous professional actress they hire turns out to be anything but, things plunge into absurdity as the hopelessly woke whites try to fashion a play that ultimately has nothing to do with the actual unsavory history of the occasion, and is devoid of any Native American insight.

“It brings home how we really don’t know what to do with what actual history – as opposed to the glossed-up stories – tells us about what really happened,” said director Mimi McDonald. “The takeaway is that we’re all just trying to figure things out, and it can get really funny and absurd as we do.”

Fasthorse has said she hopes the audience will be entertained as well as walk away with more questions than answers. But the main point she hopes accompanies the laughter is, “Doing nothing is not adequate any more. Stepping away because it’s too complicated can no longer be considered any kind of solution.” This sentiment is brought to side-splitting life in her show’s climax.

Entertainment Weekly said the play is “a good dark comedy that makes you laugh, makes you think, makes you mad, makes your brain explode.” 

Tickets are available at or by calling 305-296-9911.