Goodtime Charlie was my attempt to write a commercial play. I had almost completely forgotten about it until after I had finished my book, and then I only discovered it because I was looking through old boxes for the second photograph of Lee Paton.
The idea for the play came from Dwight Taylor. He was the son of Laurette Taylor and a successful playwright and screen writer on his own. For Broadway he had written Gay Divorce. For films he had written Top Hat. He was staying at The Woodbox in Nantucket in the early sixties, and I had met him through Marie W. F. Tutein, the proprietor of that establishment and my frequent employer.
The inspiration for the play was Doone Arbus, Diane Arbus's daughter. I had met her in New York shortly before I moved to Nantucket. She was sitting on the back of a motorcycle, driven by Michael Smith, the dramatic critic at the time for The Village Voice. I told her I was leaving New York for Nantucket. She asked where Nantucket was, and would she have any difficulty finding employment there. I assured her she would not.
When I finally moved to the island, who should I bump into but Doone. “You!” she yelled. “You were the one who told me I wouldn't have any trouble finding a job! And now look at me! I'm cleaning toilets!” Whereupon she showed me a small hand-painted "For Hire" sign which she sometimes wore about her neck. We made an agreement, then and there, that in return for my feeding her, she could help me work on my house.
When I told this story to Dwight Taylor, he was delighted with the idea. He said that we must collaborate on a play about it. I eagerly accepted his proposal – I thought Dwight would teach me how to write a successful play. Except for the initial idea, Dwight actually wrote none of the play. It is all mine. By this time, Dwight was old and tired. I don't think he had it in him to write any more plays.
As soon as I had written it, a Broadway producer by the name of Peter Katz, who had recently produced Any Wednesday, offered to option it. But, by this time I was having second thoughts. I decided not to pursue the matter. I thought how James Price would sneer at the idea of me attempting to write a commercial play. I never showed the play to anyone else. I was under some sort of compulsion to write these plays, but once they were written I lost interest in them. It didn't seem worth the effort.
When I found the play, I read it through. I thought it was the most autobiographical of all my work. If you have read my book, especially the section on Lee Paton, you can see how I used the material of my life to write it. I was also startled to discover that the four seasons appear as a motif in nearly all the plays, just as they do in my paintings. I had no idea Mother Nature and Her Children had such a strong hold on my imagination.