Area thespian and son of Theatricks Director Webster Crocker, Caleb Crocker has combined his love of theater and area history into a show about a gambler, gunfighter and dentist who lived in Denison in the 1870s. The play will show during the Doc Holliday: Saints and Sinners Festival in Denison on April 27.
The play “Win, Lose, Draw,” based on the friendship of Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp, is just one of the activities to be held on the day remembering Denison from 1870-1880.
“As I learn more and more about Doc Holliday, I become even more engrossed in the little things,” Crocker said. “Two of my favorite things I have learned so far are that he was a dentist, which is a strange place to start when you eventually gain a reputation as one of the ‘Best in the West’ and that despite the two-against-five showdown at the O.K. Corral, the entire fight lasted approximately 30 seconds.”
Crocker’s fascination with Holliday began when he was working with Shelly Shurtleff at the Rialto and she asked Crocker about doing a show for the festival that is annually held on Main Street in downtown Denison.
“They asked me to create a western to fit with the themes of the festival,” Crocker said. “At first I was going to write a normal good guy bad guy western, but then I started to research the life of Doc Holliday. The more I learned, the more inspired I was to write about him and his friendship with Wyatt Earp.”
The show has 15 characters, but Crocker said he wrote the screenplay in such a way that as few as six actors could play the roles.
“When it came time for casting I put out a last minute announcement and held one-day auditions at the Rialto,” Crocker said. “At first, I had to deliberate about my cast for awhile because I received auditioners with varying ages. I ended up with a good mix of actors, and I’m very pleased to be working with them.”
Throughout the rehearsal process, Crocker has said that working with this show has been a new experience for him as well as for the entire cast.
“Since the script is new and original, it is ever changing; but after the first week of rehearsals it seems to be in a solid state,” he said. “Rather than having one favorite scene, I have a favorite block of scenes. These scenes were written to happen one after the other with little to no transition between. These scenes were written as our training montage in classic ‘Eye of The Tiger’ fashion.”
Though he has been working in theater is whole life, Crocker is very excited for audiences to get to know the story that has inspired him.
“Since that first show, I was hooked on theater,” Crocker said. “I learned to love writing stories by creating small video skits with my cousin and youngest sister. Later in life I received formal training in script writing/formatting through S.T.A.G.E.S., an annual play writing conference that is hosted by SCP Theatricks.”
Crocker said his most-known directorial work is probably the Sherlock Holmes production that he co-directed for the Theatricks supporting cast.
“The entire process for being allowed to perform this show live during the festival has been incredible,” he said. “From writing to directing to working with amazingly talented people, including the composer of a completely original guitar score, Meagan Flood.”
“Win, Lose, Draw” is about Doc Holliday in his pursuit of gaining a reputation the city along with new-found friends Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp.
“As George Santayana said, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,’” Crocker said about why it is important to learn history. “Local history is so important because it can define a community.”
As for the future of Denison, Crocker believes that his play as well as the Doc Holliday Festival can help the area continue to celebrate what makes the city unique.
“I would like for all who come to see this play to have a chance to enjoy themselves and also to see a side to Doc Holliday that isn’t commonly seen,” he said. “I hope to see Denison’s artful past continue to inspire an artful future.”