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When You Comin Back, Red Ryder?

Background

When You Comin Back, Red Ryder? was Tony-Award Winning (Children of a Lesser God) author mark Medoff's first professionally produced play. It was first presented by the Circle Repertory Theatre Company in New York City, in November, 1973. The play was produced in many different languages around the world and was made into a film in 1979 starring Pat Hingle, Candy Clark, and Marjoe Gortner. It is a favorite with college theatre programs because of its realistic style and challenging characters. The play's title refers to a comic book and film figure of the thirties and forties. Red Ryder was a cowboy hero. His sidekick was an Indian, Little Beaver. Red Ryder was noted for the strength of his convictions and the directness of his actions.

The Setting

We have chosen to maintain the original time period for this play and not "update" the production. The time period is, as the author states, "at the end of the sixties." The main reason for this choice is that one of the main themes of the play is the loss of innocence. The Vietnam war was raging and a generation of youth who had grown up on Howdy Doody and Captain Kangaroo were now experiencing a catastrophic loss of innocence as they saw the ideal of the fifties, the nuclear family, split asunder by civil unrest, death of its males and a new sexual awakening tied to an intense experimental period with drugs, communes, and other alternative life styles.

It was also deemed appropriate to keep the play in its time period for its references to the heroes Teddy constantly refers to such as Red Ryder. This was before the days of superstar athletes who demanded millions of dollars and equal amounts of commercial endorsements for their services. This was also before the days of entertainment franchises, before the days when movies were marketed for not only their artistic and entertainment values but their merchandise, sequel, prequel, cartoon series and television series possibilities as well. The days that Teddy remembers were indeed the days of innocence.

Teddy: Villain, Hero, Or Tragic Hero?

A cursory and uninformed first reaction to the character of Teddy might be that he is a "bad guy" or "psycho." A deeper interpretation will reveal that Teddy has an insight that those around him seem to lack. Teddy is indeed aware that the days of innocence have passed and is psychologically torn asunder by this realization. He is relentlessly driven by his inner demons to strip the innocence of those around him and force them to confront the shallowness of their own lives. Whether this is good or bad, is left up to the spectator to decide. But it should be noted that self-confrontation , analysis, and awareness are the cornerstones of personal growth. Thus, as the play concludes, Stephen is able to leave the diner, Cheryle has left Teddy, and Clarisse has broken free of Richard's influence. Even Angel has a new awareness of Lyle Striker's intentions.

HFCC Drama Intense Experience

Richard Marsh Dearborn Press And Guide August 1999

HFCC Drama Intense Experience, Tests Performers

When You Comin Back Red Ryder

The effective portrayals in Henry Ford Community College's summer production of "When You Comin Back Red Ryder?" make for a great character-study show.The play, done in real time, is set in a quiet diner in rural New Mexico on a Sunday morning in the late 1960s. A collection of hopeless, helpless and hapless personalities come together through random circumstances.

When You Coming Back, Red Ryder?

Times Herald Newspapers August, 1999

Looking for a little excitement to spice up your night life? Then spend two hours in a greasy-spoon restaurant at Henry Ford Community College.

When You Comin Back, Red Ryder?-1999
When You Comin Back, Red Ryder?-1999
When You Comin Back, Red Ryder?-1999
When You Comin Back, Red Ryder?-1999
When You Comin Back, Red Ryder?-1999
When You Comin Back, Red Ryder?-1999
When You Comin Back, Red Ryder?-1999
When You Comin Back, Red Ryder?-1999
Written by: Mark Medoff
Directed by: George Popovich
August 12-22, 1999

2000 Page Award Winners

  • Outstanding Achievement By A Lead Actor In A Comedy Or Drama: Tim Jacobs
  • Outstanding Achievement in Set Design: Gerry Dzublinski

Cast and Crew

  • Stephen: William J. Spicher
  • Angel: Joanne Robertson
  • Lyle: Michael Overbay
  • Clarisse: Corey Stempien
  • Richard: James Piche
  • Teddy: Tim Jacobs
  • Cheryl: Nicole Laginess