STRATFORD — “Have guns; will travel.”
That's the motto of "The Guns of Oklahoma," a group of area residents who write and stage their versions of American history set in the West.
"We started doing this in 1980," Don Branum, founder of The Guns of Oklahoma, said in a recent interview. "I adopted the name in 1985 and we've done performances all over the state. Before that, I had a job that traveled a lot, so I was inactive for a while, but when I came back down here, the mayor of Stratford asked us to start this group up, and we did."
Led by Branum, a group of approximately nine residents of the Pontotoc County area put on theatrical performances of life in the Old West that range from comedic skits to more serious situations. And they're currently shopping around for more members.
"We'd like to have more people involved," Branum said. "We don't use any foul language and don't need anyone who abuses drugs or alcohol. They also can't have a felony conviction because with the firearms we use, it keeps us from even letting them participate."
"We can always use extras, actors or people who just want to join the group," Brad Williamson, cast member for nearly two years interjected. "They don't have to be members, they can just come in to be somebody in the crowd."
Linda Branum is just one of the few women who are on board with the cast and would like to see more involved.
"There's just a few women and we could use more who are readily available," she said. "Some of the roles we play are saloon girls, the townspeople or just the old time homemaker."
"We've even had some females take on the cowboy role," Don said. "We really like to have people play the part that they want to play because they do better at it."
Don Branum isn't a stranger when it comes to cowboy productions, however. He has been in several performances of both local and national fame.
"I've done several commercials for Oklahoma tourism, the Oklahoma City Stockyards and I've been in films like 'Oklahoma Passage' and 'My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys.'" he said. "I've also done these shows for nearly every governor of Oklahoma since we started."
Branum stated that, in addition to the entertainment value the troop gives audience members, they also teach them a thing or two.
"We like to show the young people how life was in the Old West," he said. "This is something that can never happen again, and it never happened anywhere else."
Upcoming shows for The Guns of Oklahoma will be held at the first Western Heritage Celebration in Stonewall next month.
For more information about The Guns of Oklahoma, contact Don Branum at (580) 759-2155.