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I really appreciate Playscripts and their work toward creating better theater and theater experiences for all. Jay Muldoon Theater Teacher, Fairfield, OH
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Geek Theater: Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company

On a chilly evening last November I found myself wandering through the empty, warehouse-lined streets of Bushwick.  I was new to New York, and I had been told that Bushwick was a “hip” neighborhood in Brooklyn.  But as the cold air nipped at my fingers and ballet-flat-clad toes, I began questioning my decision to come out at all.  A friend of mine was sound designing a short play for Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company and I had promised I would attend, but I was skeptical as to what kind of art I’d find among the maze of warehouses.  I was about to give up and head home, when I stumbled upon the address.

I entered the venue tentatively and was certainly surprised by what I found.  The space was packed with buzzing people.  I quickly staked out a spot by a wall (the seats were already filled) and went to retrieve my free beer.  This was going to be good.

The show that I saw that night was part of Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company’s ongoing Saturday Night Saloon series.  The Saloon featured six serialized plays–a zombie western, a space epic, and a supernatural, “Upstairs, Downstairs” piece, to name a few.  Each short play was highly stylized and combined different cinematic/comic-book genres with varied theatrical styles.  The result was a highly original and entertaining show, akin to a live-action comic book or modernized old-timey radio show.  The crowd of devoted fans, who would no doubt return for the subsequent installment, was raucous.

Vampire Cowboys  started in 2000, as a collaboration between then grad students Qui Nguyen and Robert Ross Parker.  Both Nguyen and Parker studied traditional theater, but the two bonded over their shared love of comic books, action movies, and pop culture.  In a recent interview, Nguyen said, “We wanted to create the kind of theatre we always wanted to see – a kind of theatre that was both fun and philosophical, hysterical and emotionally engaging.”  Parker added, “I’m always interested in the combination of disparate elements, embracing both the high and low brow, the place where fart jokes and philosophy meet and have tea.”

Producing a successful and popular theatrical production is no easy feat, but for the Vampire Cowboys, it’s the norm.  The innovative, “geek” theater company, won an OBIE award early in 2010, and they are also recipients of a Drama Desk award.

To my delight, Vampire Cowboy Trilogy by Nguyen and Parker, has recently become a Playscripts published play.  The three part script perfectly embodies the winking tone and comic book aesthetic of the group that made them famous.  In the first act of the play, a paranormal detective takes on the case of a mysterious stranger.  In act 2, we are presented with cold-war era crime fighting duo Captain Justice and Liberty Lady, who must stop the communist super villain, Hooded Menace.  Act 3 tells the story of your typical teenage warrior princess, battling the likes of alien cheerleaders, and of course, high school.  Qui Nguyen talked about the experiences that inspired him to write Vampire Cowboy Trilogy:

“Growing up inArkansasin a fairly homogenous environment, my folks wanted me to have strong Asian role models. So instead of allowing me to watch things like Rambo, Mash, or shows that depicted Asians as bad guys, they fed me campy Kung Fu movies to help keep my yellow-esteem high in a land full of black and white. And it worked.”

For innovative and contemporary New York theater, look no further than the Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company. Vampire Cowboy Trilogy,  is a great place to start–this fun play epitomizes the company’s point of view, and it is equally accessible to theater people, high school students, and the general public alike.  After that cold, wonderful night last November, I knew that I would be a fan of the Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company and Bushwick for life.

 –Lizzie Martinez, Playscripts’ own Comedian

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