2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Cowboy Versus Samurai confronts stereotypes with humour

By Imaan Ladipo, November 13 2014 —

Chromatic Theatre is challenging racial stereotypes in its new production, Cowboy Versus Samurai, written by Asian-American playwright Michael Golamco.

The play is a romantic comedy adaptation of Edward Rostand’s 19th-century play, Cyrano de Bergerac.

The play centres on Travis (Mike Tan), a Korean-American who is one of only two people of Asian descent living in a small town in Wyoming.

When Veronica (Carmela Sison), a Korean-American woman, moves to town, Travis is smitten. But his hopes for love are dashed when he discovers she only dates white men. Fearing rejection, Travis helps his handsome but dim-witted cowboy friend Del (Mat Glessing) win Veronica’s heart by writing her love letters and signing them with Del’s name.

When Veronica thinks she’s falling for Del, she’s actually falling for Travis. Soon the three are tangled in a love triangle.

And then there’s Chester (Richard Lee Hsi), whose over-the-top personality posits him as the play’s comedic relief. His adopted parents forgot to ask where he was born, so Chester  desperately clings to any sort of identity, which includes embracing the Asian stereotypes the townsfolk apply to him.

And being unreceptive of people of different races, the town residents are not pleased when Veronica moves to town.

Cowboy Versus Samurai examines the misrepresentation of race in the media, where being white is most prominently and people of colour are treated as set pieces, eye-candy or comedic devices.

Jenna Rodgers, artistic director of Chromatic Theatre and director of Cowboy Versus Samurai, sees the media’s representation of race as part of a system of institutionalized racism which negatively effects younger generations.

“Kids are so smart. With young children, you can practically watch them learning systemic racism,” Rodgers says.

Rodgers says representation of Asian people in the media is changing and humour can be a valuable tool in getting people to talk about these difficult topics.

“With comedy you can be direct about the problem because people are laughing along the way. If you can make them laugh, you can often reveal something pretty deep in the meantime,” Rodgers says.

Cowboy Versus Samurai runs from Nov. 13–22 in Motel at the Epcor Centre.

Hiring | Staff | Advertising | Contact | PDF version | Archive | Volunteer | SU

The Gauntlet