arry 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."


"Actually, 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."

The 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."

"In 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 surface."

In 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.

Barry said, "You've 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."

"Goodnight 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."

But 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."

"I 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."

But Goodnight, Barry added, almost could be termed unapproachable. "We know 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."

"He was a poet."

"Anyone 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."

"It's 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 south."

"The 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."

Asked 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."

"People 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."

"But 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."

 
 

 
 





 


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Barry's Roots


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Barry and Alopecia Areata

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