Layon Gray’s ‘Cowboy’ tells story of Bass Reeves


Samantha Dutch, Social Media Editor

MOON TOWNSHIP — With February celebrating Black History Month, Robert Morris University’s Center for Student Success & Personal Development and Multicultural Student Services put on a virtual experience of the play Cowboy. The event took place Thursday, February 11 at 9 pm and featured Layon Gray’s play focusing on Bass Reeves who is portrayed by Tommie Moore.

Reeves made history by being the first black U.S. Deputy Marshall in America. Throughout his 32-year career, he arrested more than 3,000 criminals, some of which were the most dangerous criminals of his time. He was able to use his detective skills for these arrests rather than rely solely on violence, only killing 14 men in self-defense. Reeves himself was never wounded.

Gray aimed to show audiences the more unfamiliar side of the American west in his play. While the Western genre is one of the most familiar, he comments that it fails to tell the entire story and strives to tell stories that aren’t found in history classes.

The story is set in 1888 Oklahoma Indian territory, following Reeves and his Indian companion searching for two criminals, the Colton brothers, who are fleeing to the Mexican border. They all find themselves stuck in a saloon as a tornado is approaching with a group of outlaws, for one of which Reeves has a death warrant.

Slavery was abolished 23 years prior to the story, so the impacts of post-slavery life are manifested into the show’s main characters. Levi Colton, who is portrayed by Thaddeus Daniels, lived through slavery and is now getting to see how big the country truly is.

While the play is certainly entertaining through its rich storytelling and occasional humor, Gray’s main goal of the show is to give the audiences a better knowledge and understanding of the brave black men and women in American West.

Those interested in watching this play can rent it on Vimeo for $15.00, where it will be available for a 24-hour streaming period.