In just over one year from now, what is arguably the greatest conspiracy of this – or any – century, will turn a half-century: the Kennedy assassination. Facts, hypothesis, conjecture, way-out there equations of culpability have flooded our collective conscious and unconscious for all that time. Yet with all that is at our fingertips we still don’t know what happened for sure on the grassy knoll in 1963. Oliver Stone put all ideas together and made us feel completely unsafe as a nation in JFK, as did new loopholes in the freedom of information act. What’s a nation to do? Turn to its artists.
Ronnie Cohen and Jane Beale – fans of a good conspiracy – stared at the Kennedy conspiracy and then looked over its should and wrote Witnessed by the World, a play about the event’s last entry – Jack Ruby.
In 1963, a hand was dealt the world involving two “Jacks” and a joker named Lee Harvey. Now, 50 years later, we meet reporter Joan Ross whose own life was painfully altered in 1963 creating in her an obsession to find the truth – maybe to write the greatest story ever printed in a newspaper or maybe just to be able to sleep at night. She uses her association with two young filmmakers to continue her search for the truth involving Jack Ruby – the executioner’s executioner. One might think that all that can be said… has, but that is not the case.
Cohen and Beale clip together a row of tiny details that when viewed at the right angle manage to paint new pictures on an all ready weathered canvas. Like their other works they depend on simple people who just happen to be in the wrong place at the right time to create deep drama: Jack Ruby’s sister, a two-bit thug that happened to know Ruby, screen writers whose lack of true success leave them hungry for info they shouldn’t know, and the titular character who might have been a great novelist or journalist except she was deafened by the shot heard round the world.
The stage was filled with prominent industry actors being watched by an audience filled with prominent industry professionals. Their goal was to start the awareness of 2013’s anniversary. The night ended with surveys and feedback, likes and dislikes, ideas for rewrites, wine and cheese.
What all in the room agreed upon however was twofold…
We STILL truly don’t know Jack, and please, someone, tell us more.
Can that someone be Cohen and Beale… here to their next draft?
WITNESSED had its first reading for an invited audience on Monday, October 15, 2012 in midtown Manhattan the cast included Ian Bell, Fiona Choi, Paula Ewin, Leo G. Farley, Todd Gearhart, Rebecca Smith, Ryann Weir, and Todd Licea. To learn more about the project and its progress, please contact WrightGroupNY Communications, 347-492-0534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Christopher Sirota/WrightGroupNY Communications