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
Indiegogo Countdown
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!

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