Many students were already aware of the Krise Thanksgiving tradition. Those who were not able to fly home spent Nov. 26 with Thomas and Patty Krise and shared a wonderful meal in their home.
This year, however, a few more Krises were brought into the mix.
“We realized that these students are homesick, not just hungry. So we decided to hire a group of actors to fill in as other relatives,” Patty explained.
“These aren’t actual relatives of ours. Heck no,” President Krise laughed. “Our relatives are basically perfect, like we are. We held auditions for the most chaotic guests we could find,” he said.
The Krises understood that, while their Thanksgiving dinners were always amazing, they lacked the upsetting element of extended family who make the night cringe-worthy with awkward questions and non-stop bickering.
While the performers were not given scripts, they were given very specific roles to play. There was even a rehearsal dinner so they could establish character history.
“We really got a feel for how much we despised, misunderstood and tolerated one another. My favorite part was when we came up with all of the fights we’d had in the past so we could bring them up during later fights,” actress Sandra Gillsby, who played Grammy Krise, said.
The most surprising talents were the youngest of the group, a handful of actors aged five to 11 years old, playing the nieces and nephews.
“They were surprisingly method. Little Tristan talked about Minions the entire time! No one even asked him to.” Patty commented.
“Ba-na-na!” Tristan said.
In order to create genuine reactions, the guests were not informed of the plan. Some of the actors greeted guests along with the Krises when they arrived, while others showed up very late on purpose.
While the guests mingled before dinner, Aunt Cathy—played by Lena Maple—convinced as many students as she could to add her on Facebook. Uncle Kevin, played by Douglas Smyth, discussed marijuana, randomly switching his stance between asking to buy it and ranting about potheads.
All of the actors socialized during this time, except for Aunt Kim, who walked up to a couple students and asked them to watch her kids for a “second” and proceeded to vanish for the rest of the night.
The real antics started at the dinner table. When the room stopped to pray a blessing, the Dorners, a Catholic couple played by Arnold Doone and Helen Chang, loudly prayed grace instead.
Once everyone began eating, about half of the adult relatives made it their goal to drink as much as possible.
“I would never drink on the job, so it was pretty tricky to make everyone think I was drunk,” actor Bob Finn, who played Uncle Kenneth, said.
The actors used a variety of tricks to seem plastered, from spraying themselves with alcohol-scented perfume to dumping their wine into plants when no one was looking.
By the time dessert rolled around, every offensive joke had been made and every controversial topic had been discussed.
“I really killed it with my offensive Hillary Clinton impression. I stuck dinner rolls in my shirt and talked about my period and emails for like 15 minutes!” Smyth said. “I asked invasive questions about human sexuality all night, and I actually learned what a furry was. That was not so fun for me,” Gillsby said.
Instead of asking everyone to go home, the Krises had planned a big finale.
“It was like when at the end of a fireworks show, they light off about half of the fireworks at once in a huge explosion,” President Krise said.
As Aunt Cathy went for her second slice of pie, one of the children called her “Aunty Tubby,” which caused her to yell at the kids, triggering shouts from defensive parents until even the Dorners were yelling at each other.
“I was all ‘you can’t tell me how to raise my kids,’” Finn recalled.
There was so much shouting that students simply left, having had their fill of both turkey and drama.
“I’ll certainly never forget it, even though I kind of want to,” junior Randy Sanchez said.
“The sweet potatoes were great, and I had to sit through a conversation about #AllLivesMatter,” senior Laylani Shaw said. “It felt just like home.” 🅼