By: Chealsia Smedley
“Has anyone ever met a Vampire Cowboy?” Mickey Hart, the director of the LGBT center, asked a discussion group of students and faculty on Wednesday, April 27. The students stared blankly, while one girl raised her hand. It turns out that she was sitting right next to one. However, this vampire cowboy was not pale or decked out in cowboy attire, but he had a normal flesh color and casually wore jeans and a t-shirt.
His name is Robert Ross Parker and he is the co-creative director and co-creator of Vampire Cowboys. Vampire Cowboys is a New York-based “geek” theater company that will be introducing their production titled “War is F**king Awesome,” on May 9 in the Elizabeth Evans Baker Theater located in Kantner Hall. The show will continue through May 19and is free for Ohio University students.
“It’s kind of like Captain America meets South Park,” Parker said about “War is F**king Awesome.” Parker and his co-creator Qui Nguyen bonded over their love of comic books and action while they were in the theater school at OU. After school they went to New York and soon decided to build their own company where they could do theater their way. “Theater is often so limited; we’re kind of into car chases, explosions and trash-talking teddy bears,” Parker said.
They worked their way up from an apartment-rehearsed play to become a critically-acclaimed company after winning both a GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) award and an OBIE award, also known as the off- broadway award.
Though much of their work is breaking the status quo of modern theater, they still adhere to the roots of the art. “We don’t really do anything Shakespeare didn’t do,” Parker said. “In Shakespeare’s time, theater was popular entertainment and art, and that’s something we are always trying to recapture.”
They uphold the fundamentals of basic storytelling and plot but bring their own twist to the moral of the story. “Most of Qui’s plays tend to end with the main character making a moral decision that would normally be morally repugnant, but in the world of the play it’s morally correct,” Parker said.
This unique style shows that their work is not purely fun and humorous but that there is also a complexity within it. “We’re interested in telling stories of characters that are not necessarily male, not necessarily white and not necessarily straight,” Parker said.
With superheroes, surprise vampire cowboy appearances and a fun sense of humor that is seen by simply listening to Parker speak, it’s clear that Parker and Nguyen are masters at the game of entertainment. Their latest show, “The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G,” received raving reviews. Time Out New York critic Helen Shaw described the show as “wonderful,” “weird,” “funny” and “eye opening.”
“No matter what, you can never bore the audience,” Parker said. “War is F**king Awesome” shows promise of keeping that rule.
“It’s very irreverent. It makes fun of everyone, and it’s about as politically incorrect as you can get,” School of Theater Professor David Haugen said. “War is F**king Awesome” is a portrayal of all of the wars in our history starting with The Revolutionary War. The audience will follow a female warrior as she finds a role in each war. “War is F**king Awesome” is making a pretty big noise on campus with staged fight scenes in Baker to growing suspicions of Hitler robots. The production shows promise of action, satire and all of the eye-gripping entertainment of the comic book world. “If you come opening night, wear your most patriotic attire,” he said.
For more information on the upcoming shows, visit the School of Theater’s website. —