Corbin, already enamored of Western trailblazer Charlie Goodnight
and inspired further by the release of Andy Wilkinson's
award-winning recording "Charlie Goodnight: His Life in
Poetry and Song," set aside time to help develop a one-man
play called "Charles Goodnight's Last Night."
more of it was written by Andy than by me. What happened is that I
was casting for a one-man project, something I could just take out
of the trunk whenever I liked. I read the J. Evetts Haley
biography of Charlie Goodnight and I thought his story was pretty
dramatic. But then I read in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal about
Andy's musical project on the life of Goodnight, and I sure didn't
want to step on any toes. So I called Andy long distance and, when
I talked to him, he told me that he thought our two projects could
compliment each other."
play, which first premiered on Friday February 9, 1996 at the Sam
Noble Special Events Center at the National Cowboy Hall Of Fame in
Oklahoma City, actually finds Barry becoming Goodnight much
in the same manner as Hal Holbrook's initial transformation into
Mark Twain for the stage. "It
starts with the preparation in front of the makeup mirror,"
said Barry. "That's
my time of reflection."
any part that you do, there is an honesty to your character and
you have to get in touch with that. In the case of Goodnight, it's
easy because his core of honesty extended all the way out to
short, pointed out Barry, the trailblazer who was used by author
Larry McMurtry as the prototype for Captain Woodrow Call in the
novel and film version of "Lonesome Dove" was a man of
action and little finesse.
heard of people who don't suffer fools gladly. Well, Goodnight
didn't suffer fools at all. He was a crusty, cantankerous old man,
and he was pretty much the same as a young man."
would use violence if it was necessary. But he didn't love
violence. As a matter of fact, he sort of detested it. And as soon
as law and order arrived, he quit wearing a gun."
Barry continues to view "Charlie Goodnight's Last Night"
as a microcosm of an era marked by loyalty and devotion to
personal codes, "What
is important today about Charles Goodnight is the man's unshakable
belief in right and wrong. He lived by a code, which most people
on the frontier did. And that's almost unheard today."
was talking recently with my sister and brother-in-law about this
practice of companies down-sizing today. When Charlie Goodnight
ran his ranch, his first priority was to make sure the hands were
fed and could make a living. And in return for that, he had their
absolute loyalty. You won't find a company in the United States
today that can depend on absolute loyalty from its employees
because there's no loyalty from the top down."
Goodnight, Barry added, almost could be termed unapproachable.
of the roughness of his language, but he was alone much of the
time in the company of men. He was a loner. He was a daydreamer."
was a poet."
who could put words together like that -
and a lot of the words in this play are direct quotes from
Goodnight or his letters - well,
these are not the words of an ignorant man. So I guess the reason
I'm doing this play is because the individual on stage goes beyond
Charlie Goodnight. This is a story that needs to be told."
a story about a man who is a symbol of what we need to be reminded
about where we came from. This is a man of absolute loyalty and a
man of absolute conviction about right and wrong, north and
thing is, we all are born with that same compass. But no one takes
the time to reflect or pay heed to that compass. We simply don't
have the luxury of time. Instead of thinking about right and
wrong, people today just spend their free time hooking up with
strangers on the Internet."
if he felt the play was geared only toward older teen-agers and
adults, Barry replied, "At
first I thought so. But I've probably performed it more for
younger than older folks and it seems to captivate everyone."
today are hungry for heroes. They're hungry for people who know
what direction they're going in, what needs to be done, what their
mission in life is. That's because we don't know anyone like that.
We're all just drifting with the wind. But now people can come to
a play about Charlie Goodnight and they see a fella who's been
buffeted by bankruptcy, the loss of his ranch, the death of his
wife and all his friends."
he's standing up at age 93 and he's still defying the entire world
to do anything to him. It's a real refreshing thing."