Join us in uncovering the rich and immersive experience of live theater and the lessons we can learn from deconstructing the stories of notorious figures like Jesse James, whose daring 1876 Northfield, Minnesota bank robbery continues to captivate our imagination. Read on to discover Angela's insights and to get a tantalizing glimpse of this high-energy production.
Artist Interview with Angela Timberman
Angela: I am playing the role of Jesse James's mother, Zerelda. She was one tough cookie.
She respected the white patriarchal construct of her world, but she expected the men in her life to be as tough as she was. Frank and Jesse felt the pressure of her expectations as did her 3 husbands. She was also a staunch supporter of the Confederacy. She resented the South's defeat in the Civil War and the way they suffered in the aftermath. I believe that's where most of her pride and expectations for Frank and Jesse came from. She saw their violent lives as noble and the masculine thing to do in response to the "Northern aggression" and she defended her boys to a fault.
Can you share your thoughts on the importance of addressing problematic characters and controversial issues in theater?
Angela: We're fascinated by stories about people who do extraordinary or infamous things. But we have a problem contextualizing heroes and villains. Humans are rarely one or the other. A person with a noble cause can do terrible things.
Jesse's story is tied to issues that we STILL struggle with in our country today. Race and gun violence are the two big ones. That's why his story is important, because for a long time his story was one of the badass hero. And it's not true. We can learn from deconstructing or retelling these stories. And they spark important conversations.
Angela: I think the style in which we're choosing to tell our story is effective in a kind of paradoxical way. As an actor, I may be performing a character from a different era, but I'm playing her for a modern audience in a modern setting.
It feels satirical and the audience can digest the atrocities in an oddly less emotional way. BUT, at the same time the modern sound and setting can sometimes make us even more connected emotionally. This keeps the audience on their toes. Because one minute you're laughing and the next you're sad. Or comfortable and then uncomfortable. Sure and then unsure.
Angela: Society creates heroes and villains, and we curate their stories into myths according to the sensibilities of the times we live in. People who do extraordinary things wake us up and speak to our own plights as humans. They are braver and bigger than our ordinary selves. Sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way, sometimes in a way we don't understand but the "wow" factor is there regardless. Their lives are a kind of spiritual or moral touchstone. And when we come back to their stories, we not only re-evaluate them we re-evaluate us.
I hope the audience leaves thinking something they didn't think before they saw this play. Maybe it will be something about themselves.
Ticket Information for "The Defeat of Jesse JAmes"
The Defeat of Jesse James
By Jeffrey Hatcher and Chan Poling
Directed by Richard D. Thompson
April 29- May 28th, 2023
Discounts: May be available for seniors, students, patrons under the age of 30, and groups of 10 or more people. Call for more info: 651-292-4323.
"A world filled with rich characters and extreme stakes"
30 E. 10th Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
Strong language, haze, fog, gunshot sound effects, and strobes.
Read Reviews from Other Twin Cities Theater Bloggers:
~Play Off The Page
"Hilarious Angela Timberman as one tough mother..."
~Cherry and Spoon
"The incomparable Angela Timberman..."
~Life In Revue