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Matata and Jesse James: An American Tragedy

by Dan Friedman  •   directed by Allie Woods  •   April 6 through May 6, 2018    •                     BUY TICKETS

Jesse James is a romantic American folk hero, known as an outlaw friend to the poor, the “Robin Hood of the West.” Yet James was a Confederate guerrilla fighter in the Civil War, who committed countless atrocities in the losing battle to preserve slavery. After the war, he and his gang turned to robbing trains. Matata and Jesse James: An American Tragedy draws on both folklore and historical record to give us a new view of America during Reconstruction, a moment of hope as well as deep divisions in this country. The color line runs tragically like a blood red river through American history and culture. The play juxtaposes James and his “bushwhackers” with a former slave, Matata. Matata and his family took up arms during the war to liberate themselves; now that the war has been won, they struggle to get a fair share of the America that they and their people had built. When Matata meets Jesse James it raises the question: where do we go from here?