Oswald Returns to Fort Worth

When Jack Ruby stepped forward from the crowd and pulled his trigger at Lee Harvey Oswald, the mysteries surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy would never be solved in the minds of many.

After that shot was fired, Oswald was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead exactly 48 hours and seven minutes after Kennedy himself. It is a dark chapter in our nation's history, and to call it an anniversary seems in poor taste, but to remember the historical event in Fort Worth was crucial as we hit the half-century mark.
William (Wally) Jones, executive director/producer at Casa Mañana, said, “We were looking for a way to commemorate President Kennedy's assassination. There are really no other plays about the incident besides Oswald: The Actual Interrogation by Dennis Richard. The play had a short run in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, and we liked the connection Oswald had to Fort Worth. After all...he went to school here, his mother lived here, and he is buried here.”
Conspiracy theories have swirled for the past 50 years. What was Oswald's motive? Did he act alone? Was he working for the mafia, or even connected to Fidel Castro? The answers to so many questions died along with him on Nov. 24, 1963. The only recorded statements made by Oswald himself took place during the three times that he was paraded in front of the press, including his famous quote, “I'm just a patsy.”
Amazingly though, no audio, video, or any transcripts were made of Oswald's interrogations with Dallas Police Chief Fritz. Author Dennis Richard spent eight months researching this untold part of the story, interviewing surviving members of Fritz's team and painstakingly piecing together a historically accurate account of those interrogations. “I had to intentionally not dramatize the events, which is a tough thing for a playwright. This is not a highly stylized or dramatic portrayal, but rather a historic reenactment of those lost hours,” says Richard.
Oswald: The Actual Interrogation will run at Casa Mañana, Nov. 9 - 17, with a student preview on Nov. 8. The play follows Oswald from the time of his arrest to the time that he was shot. The play intentionally remains neutral and tries to just present the facts.
Actor Ben Williams takes on the challenging lead role. It is tough to play down a villain like Oswald. He says, “It is scary to play a man with such a notorious and confusing effect on the American psyche. There is some leverage [as an actor] in that confusion though, I think. It is almost like teasing out the “real” Richard III. I mean, who was this man?”
Jones says, "I think this is a monumental time in the history of Fort Worth. Kennedy spent his last night here and made his last speech here. There are still so many people with connections to this event. We are living history now, I believe, as we remember these events that took place 50 years ago.”
- by Courtney Dabney