by Artists at Play Producer Marie-Reine Velez
I have a confession to make to my fellow Artists at Play producers and to our audiences: I didn’t always love Cowboy Versus Samurai. I was biased against the play, and it was totally unjustified. So, why the change of heart?
The first time I came across Cowboy Versus Samurai was when I attended the First National Asian American Theatre Festival in New York in 2007. The title caught my attention–and the theatre might have had the word “Zombie” in the name or something like that–but my initial reaction was not “Oh, I want to see that!” Something felt a bit off for me. Everything felt too tongue-in-cheek, too “look how funny I am.” Just by reading the title of the play and seeing the name of the theatre I was irked to the point where I didn’t attempt to see a performance during the two weeks I was at the festival.
The second time I encountered this play was for a reading assignment with all the producers of Artists at Play. For sure I remembered the title, but Peter had recommended it so I had to at least give it a shot, right? After finishing the play, I regretted not giving Cowboy Versus Samurai a chance and catching a performance as an audience member so many years ago.
The story was fun and filled with discussions that felt familiar and characters I saw in myself: the militant Asian, easily angered by “the establishment”; the timid Asian, just wanting to get along with everyone; the Asian who thinks she wouldn’t be able to date another Asian. (If you’re not familiar with the story, click here) While reading the play, nothing felt gimmicky; I found Golamco’s use of theatrical devices refreshing and I couldn’t wait for Artists at Play to do a production. I realized that I never knew the play was a modern adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac; the idea that one’s race, in this case being Asian, is “the nose” really works in this contemporary romantic comedy.
Golamco’s retelling of the classic story is a dynamic exploration of how we judge each other based on appearance, whether it be positive or negative. And though I initially judged the show without giving it a real chance, I can admit that I was wrong. So very wrong. Maybe I should treat plays the same way I treat people: no prejudice, no bias, everyone deserves a chance–and in my case, multiple chances: it’s difficult sometimes to make a good first impression!
|During the Cowboy Versus Samurai
Needless to say, I am very excited about our upcoming show. We have a terrific team of designers, a very talented cast and the wonderful vision of our director Peter J. Kuo. I am looking forward to seeing these people breathe life into the characters and settings of Cowboy Versus Samurai. If there’s one thing I trust about our team, it’s that we will bring a humanity to the story of these people who search for community, life and love in Breakneck, Wyoming.
I wonder if anyone else has been turned off by the play, as I once was–or how some people were turned off by the title of our first play, Ching Chong Chinaman! And if so, I hope you’ll give this play a chance, because there’s so much to the show beyond the title.
We can’t wait for you to see the show! Don’t forget–we’re currently offering a limited number of $10 tickets to each performance of Cowboy Versus Samurai. Get them before they’re gone!