Feb 25-Mar 20, 2005
The play is a glimpse at the man behind the myth as he waits through the night before the Gunfight at the OK Corral
About Doc Holliday and the Angel of Mercy
by Mike Cook
Any discussion of the great figures of the Old West must, by definition, include John Henry "Doc" Holliday. Tubercular, dentist, gambler, friend of Wyatt Earp, he remains -- nearly 125 years after the Shootout at the OK Corral -- one of the most legendary figures in American history. As part of the Fiesta of the Arts, "Doc Holliday and the Angel of Mercy" will open at New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum on Friday and Saturday, February 25-26, 2005 at 8:00 p.m. The play is a rare glimpse behind the myth at the real man. Patrick Payne, one of Las Cruces' busiest and most talented actors, portrays Holliday. The play takes place in Holliday's Tombstone, Arizona hotel room on October 16, 1881, just before he joins Virgil, Morgan and Wyatt Earp at the OK Corral for their fateful meeting with the Clantons and the McLaureys.
The play was written by Vaughn Marlowe of Oregon, who will attend both performances night at Farm and Ranch. The performances will be followed by an audience talk-back including Payne, Marlowe and Ceil Herman, who directed the play. Holliday was born into an aristocratic family in Georgia in the early 1850s. His father, a major in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, lost his plantation after the South was defeated. Holliday went north to study dentistry. His practice eventually failed because of his tuberculosis. The disease also cost Holliday the love of his life, Mattie Holliday, who had the distinction of being a cousin not only to Doc, but also to Margaret Mitchell, author of "Gone With the Wind."
Holliday became a gambler to support himself. He drank to ease the pain of his disease, and he fell in with other gamblers and gunslingers. He met Wyatt Earp in Dodge City, Kansas and eventually followed him to Tombstone. Payne, who wrote and starred in a one-man show about Jack Kerouac in 2003, said "Doc Holliday and the Angel of Mercy" is a "biographical piece" which shows Holliday as he truly was, not just as he has been portrayed in books and movies. It also focuses on his close friendship with Wyatt Earp.
From reading the play and his own research, Payne said it was obvious that Holliday "was extremely loyal. It didn't matter if you were right or wrong, he was friends with you no matter what," Holliday's intelligence also comes through in the play and the historical record, Payne said. Holliday was an excellent gambler because he understood numbers and probabilities. "He took advantage of the other players. They put more faith in miracles than in mathematics," Payne said. Payne said he was drawn to Holliday because he (Payne) grew up in Arizona and because of his love for movies about the Old West. "They don't make movies like that anymore. Through the play, I'm able to be part of that," he said.
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"Holliday" checks out OK
- By Patricia L. Garcia, Las Cruces Sun News
It takes a good actor to endure antsy audience members who feel the need to shift their position every five minutes and the flash and clicks of two cameras constantly going off.
It takes an even better one to manage to make it through a monologue with all that commotion without slipping up or forgetting a line even just a bit.
That describes Patrick Payne, who portrays the infamous Tombstone gunslinger and gambler Doc Holliday in "Doc Holliday and the Angel of Mercy," by Vaughn Marlowe and directed by Ceil Herman.
The production, featuring beautiful Victorian furniture, will run tonight and Saturday at the Farm and Ranch Museum as part of its Fiesta of the Arts. The play will continue to run at the Black Box Theatre through March 20.
The play is an interesting look at the man known for his gambling and gunslinging ways, most notably at the OK Corral gunfight in Tombstone, Ariz. on the night before the gunfight. We get a tough guy who carries to guns and a double-barreled shotgun, but we also get a sly-witted Holliday as well.
Throughout the play, the Georgia native describes the sickness that sent him to the desert Southwest. We hear about his sorrow after the loss of his mother, his goal to be a dentist and how he became a part of the feuding gunslingers that participated at the OK Corral.
But we also hear about his unrelenting love for a woman he felt he could never marry because of his sickness. This is the part that Holliday fans may not know so well, hence the angel of mercy in the production's title. It's a touching look of the well-known figure from a very different angle.
And though audiences may be quite familiar with the title character, Payne adds a bit of silliness and exuberance to Holliday. He brings a character that is less larger-than-life and more real and down-to-earth.
Unlike many a stage actor, Payne manages to keep a perfect southern drawl that never goes in or out throughout the duration of the play. And while there is only one actor on stage, Payne does an excellent job of keeping the actor going, engaging the audience to not only listen, but to become part of his story.
Audiences who see the play at the Farm and Ranch Museum will be treated to a talkback with the playwright, who will be in town to see his work come to life.
Wanted: Fabulous Historical play
- NMSU Round Up, by Cassie McClure
The No Strings Theatre Company is offering a retro performance for those who would like to take a peek back at one of the West's most infamous legends.
"Doc Holliday and the Angel of Mercy" is a one-man play starring Patrick Payne and directed by Ceil Herman.
The scene is set in 1881, the day before the showdown in the OK Corral, with Doc Holliday trying to dull the pain from tuberculosis and waiting for the sun to rise.
Herman said the play focuses on the transformation of a man in his underwear to a man dressed to kill. "The playwright (Vaughn Marlowe) wanted him to go from disheveled to menacing," he said.
Holliday discusses the day-to-day life in Tombstone, Ariz., taking swipes at the stupidity and drunkenness that surround him.
Holliday's place in Tombstone and in history is evident, but speculation remains about facts in his life such as his birth and death. In the notes of the play, Marlowe says Holliday's personality is "pure invention."
Be that as it may, the reasoning and logic Marlowe gives for a killer casts a new light on how a man distraught by love loses himself in the pain of dying.
The highlight of the play is directly before intermission, when Holliday discusses his love for his cousin. Struck down by the realization that he was afflicted with tuberculosis shortly before their marriage, Holliday takes his chances to find a cure in the West.
Knowing soon that there is no cure, Holliday's cousin, Maddy, retreats into a cloister.
Payne's Holliday holds back emotion reading Maddy's letter and goes to the wings. "Marlowe liked that idea and expanded that, the fact that it haunted him for the rest of his life," Herman said.
If acting out such an infamous character is difficult, acting alone with only a speaker as an infrequent companion must be even more daunting.
"I hit stride about 20 minutes into the play," said Payne, who has acted since 1997. "It's about saying the words, the accent, the clothes. It didn't really turn a corner until we had the clothes. Actually putting on the boots helped."
The play is filled with high-stakes drama and covert wit, and Holliday is given a likable swagger, which makes the audience care about the stories he tells.
THE GREEN ROOM: THEATER REVIEW
A poet and a gunslinger
No Strings Theatre Company continues Biography Month with 'Belle' and 'Doc'
- By Mary Gennrich and Jeff Barnet, The Las Cruces Bulletin
No String Theatre Company's Biography Month' continues through March with "The Belle of Amherst, "Doc Holliday and the Angel of Mercy" and Bob Diven's "Painting Madame X." Each of the productions focuses on an individual from the past and presents their history in a one-man show.
"Doc Holliday and the Angel of Mercy," starring Patrick Payne, could be called a one-man show. But "the Angel of Mercy" is just as real a character in this show as the legendary gunslinger.
The play, written by Vaughn Marlowe in 1992, is no romantic or idealized version of a Wild West hero. Rather, it is a portrayal of the man Holliday really was. It is an intimate encounter with a complex, humorous, and intelligent man. For Holliday, the Wild West is more absurd than it is exciting, more pathetic than it is dangerous, more purgatory than it is freedom. Haunted by lost love, and sure to die of tuberculosis if not by the bullet, Holliday is a sly observer of broken humanity - and of his own incurable loneliness.
Not that Payne's Holliday is a sad man. Far from it. Although he can not shake the memory of his cousin Mattie, the one woman who has sworn eternal love for him and who cannot marry him because of his illness, but remains willing to come to him at any moment if he should be cured. He recalls the death of his mother and the violence of Sherman's march through the South. Holliday spends the majority of the play telling stories to both amuse and educate his audience. Whether the subject is firearms, the Indian Wars, gunslingers or his own maddeningly random life, Holliday's tales are warm for their humanity, and sharp for their intelligence.
"Some people say I am a fearless, cold-blooded killer," Payne's Holliday says with an icy glare. Then he breaks into. a bemused smile and turns away in a gesture that says, "No, not really"
He reports that people say he is unafraid of death. Long pause. "That is rubbish," he says.
Payne captures Holliday's gruff Georgian accent and the wizened, droll sense of humor of this man of the world. An educated Southerner who traveled to enemy territory -Philadelphia - to be trained as a dentist, Holliday saw his dreams of ordinary life shot to hell well before he was 30. His pain al)out that is still palpable and Payne shows how Holliday tried to manage it through stoicism - and the occasional shot of "Yankee courage" - whiskey.
The play is set the day of the Shootout at the OK Corral:
October 16, 1881. History has already well recorded what happened that day: Holliday and Morgan and Wyatt Earp faced down the Clantons and the McLauerys in Tombstone, Ariz. Holliday survived the shootout.
Vaughn's script raises the possibility that Holliday was suicidal. Holliday reports that it's something that people say about him and why he isn't afraid to die. lie is a dead man
He reports that people say he is unafraid of death. Long pause. "That is rubbish," he says.
Payne captures Holliday's gruff Georgian accent and the wizened, droll sense of humor of this man of the world. An educated Southerner who traveled to enemy territory -Philadelphia - to be trained as a dentist, Holliday saw his dreams of ordinary life shot to hell well before he was 30.
His pain about that is still palpable and Payne shows how Holliday tried to manage it through stoicism - and the occasional shot of "Yankee courage" - whiskey.
The play is set the day of the Shootout at the OK Corral: October 16, 1881. History has already well recorded what happened that day: Holliday and Morgan and Wyatt Earp faced down the Clantons and the McLauerys in Tombstone, Ariz. Holliday survived the shootout.
Vaughn's script raises the possibility that Holliday was suicidal. Holliday reports that it's something that people say about him and why he isn't afraid to die. He is a dead man already, essentially, because of his illness, and most likely he'll never be reunited with his only love, his angel of mercy.
Hollidav hints that if someone were to shoot and kill him, he wouldn't find that completely disagreeable. But he says he would never kill himself. Mattie is a Catholic nun, and although Holliday is wrestling with God, one thing hec will not jeopardize, he says, is his one chance to finally be reunited with her. And also, he says: "I love life." And his facial expression backs that up.
It is Holliday's love of life that really comes across in this play. No matter who or what Holliday is talking about, no matter how bent or insane the person in his tale, Holliday always talks of the person with respect, amusement, and genuine love in his voice. "Stigmatized by the world as a modern-day leper" as he puts it. Holliday is deeply compassionate toward the rest of the world. And, in what may be his most touching attribute of all, he is an intensely loyal friend.
On several occasions, Holliday mentions offhandedly that Wyatt Earp is his friend, but his voice - and here one can appreciate the nuances of Payne's performance and Ceil Herman's direction - there is always something in the way he emphasizes the word "friend' that reveals how deep his connection to Earp really was. So much so that he will risk his own life when he fights along side of Earn that night. Because he is his friend.
There is plenty of fresh, honest Wild West humor and colorful phrases in this show. Holliday knows how to entertain his audience. But this show offers a lot more than entertainment.
"Doe Holliday and the Angel of Mercy is an experience with a man facing death. tragedy, meaninglessness, a possible violent end - and finding a way to go on with nobility of soul.
No seating plan has been posted.
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