It was only meant as a joke. Williamsburg roommates Dan Rogers and Adam Scott Mazer were brainstorming a serial to do for the genre-bending theater group Vampire Cowboys when Rogers threw out the words “zombie Western.”
“He said it as a joke originally,” said Mazer. “But I said, ‘That’s brilliant, that’s what we have to do.’ ”
And they did, with Mazer writing 15 minutes bursts of the play “Death Valley” last fall, setting up for its first full-length production at the Bushwick Starr, with Rogers directing.
“Once you get into it, there’s a lot in common between the Western genre and the horror zombie genre,” said Mazer. “It’s all about freedom and justice, and what happens in a world where there are no real rules, and laws aren’t binding.”
The dark comedy, which was written before this summer’s anticipated blockbuster, “Cowboys and Aliens,” is set in 1880 on the Texas-New Mexico border and follows Lawrence, a smooth-talking cowboy, and his occasional lady friend, Adele, who soon find themselves in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.
As far as influences go, it’s a little bit “Deadwood,” a little bit “True Grit” (the remake), a little bit “28 Days Later,” a little bit “Walking Dead” (the comic book).
“Dan coined the term ‘The Walking Deadwood’ to describe the tone and general idea of the show,’ ” said Mazer. “That’s pretty accurate.”
“Death Valley” at the Bushwick Starr (207 Starr Street between Irving and Wyckoff Avenues in Bushwick, no phone), June 23-July 10. Tickets $15. For info, visit www.thebushwickstarr.org.