Barry Corbin will play the legendary Charlie Goodnight at the future amphitheater site for the Texas Frontier Trails at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7.
Corbin said he’ll have to brush up a little – it has been awhile since he played the role.
“I’ve done it several times, but not for about five years,” he said.
Those performances included the National Western Heritage Museum and Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City; the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association in Fort Worth; Washington state; Nevada; and others.
Corbin said he was looking for a one-man play. He had read Charles Goodnight, Cowman and Plainsman by J. Evetts Haley and wanted a play.
In his research, Corbin came across a song and poem written by Andy Wilkinson.
The two got together and Wilkinson would write some, send it to Corbin who would work on it and return it to Wilkinson.
Wilkinson said he had never written a play, instead he was a song writer and poet.
“I’d written a long piece of music and poetry about Goodnight,” he said, adding that in the beginning he thought it be like writing a long set of lyrics.
“Getting to work with Barry was terrific,” Wilkinson commented. “It was an invaluable experience.”
Wilkinson said the play is not so much about Goodnight’s remembering the past, although there is some of that.
“The real focus of the play is how do we move from our prime, as the world sees us, to our dotage?”
Wilkinson said in the 1920s, the world saw Goodnight as an old man who had lived an adventurous life, but a man whose time had passed, a man who had little to contribute in “the modern age.”
But the legendary cattleman saw himself much differently – he was still a vibrant and thoughtful man who had ideas and was willing to experiment.
“He was forever experimenting with cross-breeding cattle and cross-breeding buffalo,” Wilkinson explained.
In fact, Wilkinson said Goodnight wrote a letter to a friend in New York. The friend wrote back and asked Goodnight what he was doing.
“I have 25 years of projects in front of me,” Goodnight responded.
He was in his 80s when he wrote that letter.
“He was never ready to retire,” Wilkinson said.
The site of the play is at the old Pollard Creek Park at the far north end of Oak Avenue in Mineral Wells.
Gates will open at 7 p.m. and there will be a shuttle service from the parking area to the performance site.
Organizers will have water at the outdoor stage and rest rooms will also be at the location.
There are a limited number of tickets available for the one performance that will showcase not only Charlie Goodnight but also the TFT goal of building a permanent amphitheater for summer performances highlighting the history and heritage of Palo Pinto County.
Following the performance there will be a reception and an opportunity to visit with Corbin.
TFT is also seeking event sponsors for the fund-raisers. Sponsors get tickets, preferred seating, parking and acknowledgement of their contribution through advertising and special recognition.
For tickets or to become a sponsor, contact the Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce, 940-325-2557; Farm Bureau Insurance, 940-325-9412; or Texas Frontiers Trail, 940-327-8386.