If the content you are seeing is presented as unstyled HTML your browser is an older version that cannot support cascading style sheets. If you wish to upgrade your browser you may download Mozilla or Internet Explorer for Windows.

The Collected Works of Billy the Kid

Poetic novel by Michael Ondaatje adapted to theatre collectively and by the author over twenty times, and performed across Canada, notably at the Stratford Festival, Theatre 3, Belfry Theatre, and Great Canadian Theatre Company (September, 1998, directed by Richard Rose). The novel was a winner of the Governor General’s Award for poetry in 1970, although Prime Minister Diefenbaker, at the time, said it was unworthy of the prize. It is a collage of poetry and prose, photos, illustrations and “clippings,” written from Billy the Kid's perspective, culminating in his death at the hands of Sheriff Pat Garrett (published in 1970 by Anansi).

The play is studded with magnificent monologues and duos, reflections of the Far West and the machismo needed to survive it. Ondaatje's language has a broad palette which allows directors to be equally broad in their scenic explorations.

In a 1999 interview with Hillel Italie (Associated Press) Ondaatje said of the work's creation, "I grew up in Sri Lanka loving westerns [sic] and wanting to be a cowboy...so when I wrote Billy the Kid, it was my way of writing a Western."

Commentary by Gaetan Charlebois

Last updated 2022-01-05