Olney Theatre Honors Its Heritage on Unceded Native Land

The Olney Theatre, as well as other parts of Montgomery County, lies on unceded land that is the ancestral home of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe.

Scene from “The Thanksgiving Play” Photo by Teresa Castracane Photography

In honor of that as well as National Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday, theatre members currently are showing, “The Thanksgiving Play,” which was written by a Native playwriter. The theatre also included information about the tribe in both its playbill and website.

The theatre, which is located at 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, formed a committee and invited speakers to learn not just about the Piscataway Conoy Tribe but also the Quakers and Freed Black Slaves, who continue to live in the area.

On Oct. 1, Olney Theatre unveiled a Land Acknowledgment Agreement, which states in part, “We are grateful for the territory upon which we gather today: and we respect Maryland’s Indigenous peoples, the original stewards of this land.”

Shruthi Mukund, the theatre’s director of community engagement, said that in light of this as well as discussions on Black Lives Matter and racial inequity, the theatre has formed a diverse committee to continue learning about the history of the area.

It is important to know not just their history but also “who they are now,” Mukund said.

Through Oct. 31, the theatre is showing, “The Thanksgiving Play,” which “is sort of holding up the mirror and questioning all our beliefs of what Thanksgiving was,” she said. The show is described as a “hilarious sendup of white wokeness” which “features an undaunted theatre teacher desperately trying to create a culturally sensitive play celebrating Thanksgiving”, according to Olney Theater’s website.

Here is what Mukund told MyMCM.

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Suzanne Pollak

About Suzanne Pollak

Suzanne is a freelance reporter with Montgomery Community Media. She has over 35 years professional experience writing for newspapers, magazines, non-profit newsletters and the web.

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