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posted: 7/11/2012 11:16 AM

Oswald drama delves into controversy surrounding Kennedy's assassinatiom

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  • Bill Burghardt, left, directs Ken Ball, center, and Lee McFadden, right, in "Oswald: The Actual Interrogation" opening July 27 at the Village Theatre Guild.

      Bill Burghardt, left, directs Ken Ball, center, and Lee McFadden, right, in "Oswald: The Actual Interrogation" opening July 27 at the Village Theatre Guild.
    Courtesy of Village Theatre Guild

 
By Bill Lundin
The Village Theatre Guild

Glen Ellyn's Village Theatre Guild delves into history and controversy in its upcoming production of the events swirling around the capture and interrogation of Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who allegedly assassinated President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. In "Oswald: The Actual Interrogation" playwright Dennis Richard re-enacts the gripping events, over the 48 hours that Oswald is in custody at the Dallas Police Department, prior to Oswald's murder on November 24, 1963, by night club owner Jack Ruby.

The production runs weekends July 27 through Aug. 11 at the northwest corner of Park Boulevard and Butterfield Road, Glen Ellyn. Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. on July 29 and August 5. There's also an 8 p.m. performance on Thursday, Aug. 9, and a Saturday matinee at 3 p.m. on Aug. 11.

The VTG's production is a coup for the Glen Ellyn troupe, being the Midwest première of the play, on the heels of productions in New York and Los Angeles. Director Bill Burghardt tracked down the playwright and enticed him to allow the VTG to produce the play.

Events in "Oswald: The Actual Interrogation" center on Oswald's interrogation by Dallas Police Captain William J. Fritz between 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22, 1963 and 11:15 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 24, 1963. There were no stenographs, video or tape recordings of those interrogations. Fritz was only able to produce a few pages of hand-scrawled notes for the Warren Commission.

Richard reconstructed the interrogations using the record as he was able to research it. Some of the dialogue includes quotes attributed directly to Oswald who repeatedly and vociferously denied his involvement in the assassination.

Burghardt said he has had a fascination with the Kennedy assassination since he was a teenager.

"I've been interested in the subject every since I was in 7th grade. I've read almost everything about it," he said.

The play is basically a confrontation between Fritz of the Dallas Police Department and Oswald.

"It's not going to answer questions. It's going to show what happened. Some people will be surprised that Oswald said repeatedly that he was innocent," Burghardt said. "It's impossible to duplicate the whole interrogation verbatim because there's no tape. We really don't know what was said every minute in that room but Richard has put together a plausible scenario based on people who testified before the Warren Commission, the House Assassinations Committee, and FBI reports."

The Village Theatre Guild celebrates its 50th season this year and next which ironically coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.

Lee Harvey Oswald is played by Max Wright of Naperville, and Capt. Fritz by Ken Ball of Roselle. Other cast members include Marty Dean of Downers Grove, Vince Scalone of Lisle, Jerry Moore of Elmhurst, Lee McFadden of Glen Ellyn, Stan Kosek of Villa Park, Devin Ferber of Wheaton, and Bill Burghardt of Glen Ellyn.

Tickets are $15. For information, contact (630) 469-8230 or www.villagetheatreguild.org.

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