Buffalo Bill Combination: Exhibition #1

Conceived, Written & Produced by AXIS COMPANY

Directed by Randy Sharp

June 11 - 13, 2007

Monday - Wednesday at 8PM
By Invitation

In preparation for a production in 2008, Axis Company developed material concerning Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. One of the most successful events in theatrical history, Cody's pageant became a large contributor to the beginnings of our national identity; Buffalo Bill literally created it from his own imagination and memories.

Featuring: Brian Barnhart, Marlene Berner, David Crabb, Laurie Kilmartin, Lynn Mancinelli, Edgar Oliver, Margo Passalaqua, Ian Tooley, Jim Power, Henry Strozier

director & original music: Randy Sharp
lighting designer: David Zeffren
sound designer/music production & arrangements: Steve Fontaine
costume designer: Lee Harper, Matthew Simonelli
assistant lighting designer: Amy Harper
lighting technicians: Jamie Crockett, Andrew Grant
lighting technicians: Alexander Paul, Diane Tees
director of photography: Ben Wolf
film editor: Conor McDonough
assistant camera operator: Sung Rae Cho, Lauren Haber
set construction: Ian Tooley, Jonathan Florez, John Magalese
shadow puppet construction: Lynn Mancinelli, Margo Passalaqua
deadwood stage animation: Margo Passalaqua
sound operator: David Balutanski
light board operator: Jonathan Florez
website & graphic designer: Ethan Crenson
publicity photographer: Dixie Sheridan
production assistant: Cody Potter

artistic director: Randy Sharp
producing director: Brian Barnhart
executive producer: Jeffrey Resnick
production manager: Ian Tooley

SPECIAL THANKS to Jim Sterling, Henry Strozier, Buffalo Bill Historical Center

This production is made possibly by a generous grant from the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation.

The Producers wish to thank the tdf Costume Collection for its assistance in this production.


Ladies and Gentlemen

What you are about to see is workshop of materials concerning Buffalo Bill's Cody's Wild West. In the span of a few years and unlike any other country in the world, America had populated its wild country, cleared it of natives and joined both coasts with a web of telegraph poles and railway lines. Like the nascent and desperate civilization around him, Cody created his own identity from a fantastic joining of fact, imagination, hope and fantasy. Cody began his legendary reign over American consciousness in the Buffalo Bill Combination: a traveling frontier vaudeville performing dime store plays written by the hack novelist Ned Buntline. Following soon after was Buffalo Bill's Wild West - an unprecedented conglomeration of exhibitions concerning frontier life for which audiences as early as 1875 were already nostalgic. In the show Indians and soldiers who had participated in real frontier battles performed in a staged version of them. Settlers who had been attacked by desperate prairie bandits were attacked again in the arena by real outlaws playing themselves. Buffalo Bill's eye for drama never wavered and he commonly changed facts to suit the pageant or simply to make the cowboys and frontier pilgrims of our recent past more shiningly brave. Depressed, in debt and drunk Bill Cody was forced to perform well into his old age in order to pay off investors.

Buffalo Bill's decisions as guardian of the American dream include many notions that endure today. The essential outline of our national identity as Americans can still be traced back to William Cody's interpretation of the Wild West legend. In some ways Americans themselves were created live, on stage, in William Cody's circus.

In this incarnation of what will be a larger work, AXIS COMPANY has focused on the actual Wild West Show itself and some of the sad and fascinating characters in it. A good deal of the text is taken from a real performance script from The Wild West Show in 1889. AXIS COMPANY has mixed iconic western music with original songs and taken visual cues from varied sources such as countless photographs of the period, Charlton Heston's unusual western movie Pony Express, the incomparable Westworld, Magnificent Seven and many others.

  • (Clockwise) Marlene Berner (on floor), Brian Barnhart, David Crabb, Lynn Mancinelli (on floor), Margo Passalaqua (also on screen), Edgar Oliver - photo by Dixie Sheridan
  • Laurie Kilmartin, David Crabb, Brian Barnhart, Edgar Oliver, Lynn Mancinelli - photo by Dixie Sheridan
  • Margo Passalaqua, Brian Barnhart, Laurie Kilmartin, Ian Tooley, Marlene Berner, Edgar Oliver, David Crabb, Lynn Mancinelli - photo by Dixie Sheridan
  • Laurie Kilmartin, Marlene Berner, Edgar Oliver, Margo Passalaqua, Lynn Mancinelli, David Crabb, Ian Tooley, Brian Barnhart - photo by Dixie Sheridan
  • Brian Barnhart, David Crabb, Margo Passalaqua - photo by Dixie Sheridan
  • Brian Barnhart, David Crabb, Lynn Mancinelli, Marlene Berner (on floor), Margo Passalaqua (on screen), Ian Tooley, Laurie Kilmartin, Edgar Oliver - photo by Dixie Sheridan
  • Marlene Berner, Lynn Mancinelli, David Crabb, Brian Barnhart, Edgar Oliver - photo by Dixie Sheridan
  • Edgar Oliver, Lynn Mancinelli, Margo Passalaqua, David Crabb, Brian Barnhart, Ian Tooley, Laurie Kilmartin, Marlene Berner - photo by Dixie Sheridan
  • Margo Passalaqua, Ian Tooley, David Crabb, Marlene Berner, Laurie Kilmartin, Edgar Oliver - photo by Dixie Sheridan