Directed by Layon Gray, performed by The Layon Gray American Theatre Company, Hanesbrands Theatre

Tickets and showtimes can be found here.

Bass
Reeves arrested more than 3,000 criminals in his time as the first black deputy
US Marshal during the late 19th Century, according to biographer
Art. T Burton. Playwright and director Layon Gray plays Reeves’ in his play Cowboy, which makes its world premiere
at the festival this year.

“I
love telling stories that people don’t know about, especially about the
African-American experience,” said Gray. “In researching another project, I
stumbled upon Reeves. I knew that I wanted to put him in a story and with this
festival coming up I knew it would be great timing.”

Reeves’ jurisdiction included modern-day Oklahoma and
Arkansas, then known as Indian Territory. There’s no outstanding evidence that
the creators of the hit fifties TV show, “The Lone Ranger,” found inspiration
in Reeves, however, Burton writes in his book, Black
Gun, Silver Star,
that “Reeves is the closest real
person to resemble the fictional Lone Ranger on the American western frontier
of the nineteenth century.”

“America
was different [in the fifties] and a lot of black stories were twisted,” said
Gray.

Historical whitewashing of
“The Lone Ranger” and other fictional cowboy heroes set a certain image in the
minds of Americans on what a cowboy was. The release of Gray’s play is a step
towards revising that image to create a more accurate representation of that
time.

Many of history’s greatest
figures get pushed to the side, Reeves is just one of them. Gray doesn’t want
that to be the case for Reeves, though. He believes that through the gripping,
immersive nature of theater, he can effectively relate the story about one of
the most accomplished lawmen in American history.

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