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Classroom Plays for Social Studies, History, Folklore


   * Written by L.E. McCullough, Ph.D.

   * ISBN: 1-57525-105-1

   * Retail List Price: $17.00 (check online retailers for other prices)


The wild and wooly American frontier lives again!


THESE 12 ORIGINAL PLAYS offer humorous and adventurous dramatizations of songs, folktales, historical events and larger-than-life characters from Buffalo Bill and Calamity Jane to Sacajawea and Sitting Bull. Join the railroaders, mountain men, vaqueros, 49ers, outlaws and – yessiree, pardner – the school teachers and missionaries who settled the West.


Each play has an introduction with historical information as well as helpful notes for staging, costuming and music. The Plays of the Wild West series is perfect for making American history come alive!


1. The Buffalo Hunters. The epic story of the Western buffalo hunts and the ecological and human tragedy they wrought, with appearances by California Joe, Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Sitting Bull.


2. Chief Sarah, The Indian Joan of Arc. First woman chief of the Paiutes, Sarah Winnemucca (1844-1891) served as an Army scout and interpreter, school teacher, author, lecturer and tireless champion of Indian rights. Even the whites who fought against Chief Sarah admired her courage, dubbing her “The Indian Joan of Arc”, after the brave young French young woman who led her nation to victory in the Middle Ages.


3. Jesse James: Blood on the Saddle. The exploits of Missouri bandit Jesse James, in fact and folklore, from his childhood days through his Civil War guerrilla activities and years as a terror-wielding bank and train robber.

4. El Corrido de Gregorio Cortez. “El Corrido de Gregorio Cortez” is a folk ballad that has been sung along the Texas-Mexico border for nearly a hundred years and is based on a true incident. In South Texas in 1901, a Spanish-speaking farm worker was unjustly accused by an English-speaking sheriff of stealing a horse. Because neither the worker nor the sheriff could understand each other’s language, confusion led to distrust and distrust led to fear; within seconds, pistols were produced and blood was shed, resulting in the ruin of many innocent lives as Cortez led hundreds of pursuers on a chase across the state before finally surrendering. This unfortunate miscommunication between cultures was a pattern repeated many times throughout the West, but seldom has it been so thrillingly documented as in El Corrido de Gregorio Cortez.


5. Fandango! Though life for early settlers in the Wild West was usually very hard, there were occasional social events where people could relax and have fun. These “fandangos” often brought together many cultures; the common denominator of music and dance made folks temporarily forget their differences as everyone contributed to the entertainment with a story or a song. Featured songs include La Encantadora; Un, Deux, Trois; Weevily Wheat; Dime Sí, Sí, Sí; When I Was a Cowboy; The Woodsman’s Alphabet; Poor Wayfaring Stranger; Song of Good Luck; The Cowboy’s Dream with guest appearances by African-American cowboy Nat Love (1854-1907) and “Stagecoach” Mary Fields (1833-1914), the second American woman to carry a U.S. mail route.


6. “Have Floss, Will Travel”: The Ever-So True Saga of Hiram T. McRoot, Frontier Dentist. Tombstone may have been tamed by the Earps and Old Abilene by Bat Masterson, but in Buzzard Belch, Colorado, the “root” of the town’s gunslinger problem is cured with a blazing scaler and cavity extraction at high noon. A humorous semi-operatic rhyming spoof of the Western lawman genre.


7. Ninth Cavalry to the Rescue! Introduced by General Colin Powell, this play celebrates the legendary Buffalo Soldiers — the first African-American soldiers commissioned during peacetime, from their service in the Lincoln County Wars to the Massacre at Wounded Knee. Appearances by Billy the Kid, Geronimo and Governor Lew Wallace.


8. Greasepaint and Ginthons: The Medicine Show Comes to Town. Young Ben runs away from home to become a hobo; on the way to “the Big Rock Candy Mountain”, he meets up with a traveling medicine show — then the real fun begins!


9. Outlaw Gold: The Lost Treasure of Comanche Creek. It’s another boring Saturday in suburbia, and three modern youngsters get more adventure than they bargain for when they pursue the local legend of a lost mine and buried outlaw treasure.


10. Rocky Mountain Rendezvous. At “The Last Rendezvous” of Western fur trappers in 1839, three veteran mountain men (Antoine Robidou, Joe Meek and Jim Beckwourth) sit around the campfire in Horse Creek, Wyoming, and sensitize an Eastern missionary to frontier culture with real-life Indian tales: Iktomi the Spider, Black Bear Curing Song and The Story of the Sasquatch.


11. Turquoise Tom, The Versifying Bandit of Old California. Join old-timers Buckshot Bill, Pancho Pescado and Whispering Jim as they tell the story of Turquoise Tom, a lesser-known cousin to 1880s’ stage coach robber “Black Bart”, who occasionally left short poems at the scene of the crime. A melodrama sure to curdle your strophes!


12. Vinegar Pete’s Calico Whisker Pie. A rhyming, humorous tribute to an irascible chuck wagon cook, or “cookie”, as the man who prepared meals for the cowboys was commonly called, whose specialty dish nearly leads to an unfortunate necktie party!

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