Tom Hendry on the plays "Red Emma" & "The Collected Works of Billy the Kid" (Part 4 of 6)
Tom Hendry reflects on Carol Bolt's play, 'Red Emma'.
Tom Hendry reflects on the plays "Red Emma" and "The Collected Works of Billy the Kid". Carol Bolt’s play "Red Emma" was based on the life of anarchist/feminist Emma Goldman and the events leading up to her attempted assassination of American industrialist Henry Clay Frick in 1892. Bolt originally presented the idea to Hendry as a serious musical, but the play would ultimately be produced by the Toronto Free Theatre in 1974 as a drama in two acts, directed by Martin Kinch and starring Chapelle Jaffe. R.H. Thomson was in the audience and remembers how the conviction of community he felt in that theatre motivated him to return to Canada.
A few years later Thomson would find himself in a TFT production of "The Collected Works of Billy the Kid" by writer Michael Ondaatje. A legendary Canadian poet and writer, Ondaatje is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Governor General’s Award, the Giller Prize, the Booker Prize, and the Prix Médicis étranger.
Hendry reminisces on a time when Ondaatje was still an unknown poet and was paid $1000 to write a children’s show for the Stratford Festival. Ondaatje insisted he could not write a children’s show. Instead, Stratford bought the rights to his unpublished, experimental novel about the American outlaw Billy the Kid. Hendry discusses how he brought the book to Jean Gascon for adaptation to the stage and convinced him to consider purchasing an old skating rink as a venue for the production, which would eventually be the Tom Patterson Theatre. Stratford presented "The Collected Works of Billy the Kid" in 1973 but without a definitive script.
Interviewed by R.H. Thomson on July 18, 2012 in Toronto.
Filming location courtesy of The Canadian Stage Company. ...