A Friday in November

A Friday in November

November 22, 1963, 12:30 PM, the 35th President of the United States of America, John Fitzgerald Kennedy is shot and killed while driving in his motorcade in Dallas, Texas. The fatal head shot which killed the President is one of the most controversial assassinations in the history of the United States. It has become a source of multiple conspiracy theories, many of which have inspired books, documentaries, and films. One of the most historical pieces of film in the J.F.K. assassination has been the Zapruder Film, a 26 second, 486 frame home video of this tragic event. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqzJQE8LYrQ The film was shot by dressmaker Abraham Zapruder and is one of the focuses of A Friday in November; an original play commemorating the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, which is a student, produced and performed production at the Columbus State Theatre in Nestor Hall.

The original fall production is created and directed by Frank A. Barnhart, the lead instructor in the Columbus State Theatre Department. Although this is the premier of docudrama, A Friday in November, Frank A. Barnhart is no stranger to original docudramas, a specific type of theatre created from research and written in a monologue style to the audience. For the Titanic’s 100th anniversary, Frank A. Barnhart created and produced docudrama, Titanic, a Retrospective, won Best Play, Best Director, and Best Costumes from the Central Ohio Theatre Round Table. Barnhart continues his excellence in this original creation commemorating the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

With only 16 cast members playing more than 50 characters, including reporters, eyewitnesses, and an ensemble of citizens, each cast member has to take on at least 5 roles. Carla D’errico is one of the cast members in A Friday in November. Among the characters Carla is playing is Jean Hill, one of the closest civilian witnesses to the assassination, within only a few feet of Kennedy’s car, with her friend Mary Morman. Jean Hill is known as the “Lady in Red” because of the long red raincoat she was wearing. “When I was in high school, my teacher made us watch a documentary about the different theories of the assassination. It examined the probability and improbability of each theory, but besides that, I had no idea about anything else. Only surface knowledge. I have learned a lot from listening to the firsthand accounts.” This docudrama has sparked interest for Carla, because it is still a mystery. This is her second play with Columbus State and is planning on seeking a Masters degree in screenwriting but aspires to be a director and actress.

Another student in the show is first time performer, Madison Lee. Her favorite role is Cathy Atkinson, a 12 year old who was pictured crying and became famous for being a symbol for America. This part also acts like a narrator. Madison is excited to be in her first play at Columbus State, but the plethora of characters and pace of the lines makes her very nervous. “The quick changes of costumes create a nerve racking experience for anyone,” says Madison. The entire cast has extra practices, just for costume changes. “Docudramas are different than traditional theatre; the monologue is less interactive with other performers…. This makes you have to look for moments to connect with the others on stage, the relationship needs extra time to develop.” This both helps actors and hinders them. The actors have to be more in tune with the audience than with each other. Madison is studying theatre as a minor and plans on attending OSU in the spring for English and Education.

The show has minimal props with a big impact.  The most noticeable will be the screens on stage showing films and other moving and still images of the assassination. The Zapruder film’s frame-by-frame account is an exceptional point of view, but even more extraordinary are the accounts of people which remembered where they were and what they were doing when the news of the President’s death reached their ears. A Friday in November gives us stories of eyewitnesses who stood on curbs at Dealey Plaza to watch the motorcade pass by. Moreover, there are members of the cast which play friends and employees of the Kennedy family, such as Maude Shaw, the Kennedy’s nanny for children John Jr. and Caroline. She tells the story of the children’s reactions to the death of their father. This collection of characters tells the moving story of American history that numbed the nation.

Friday in November gives the audience a unique perspective on the day the President died while driving in the motorcade through Dallas, Texas. This fall production is well worth seeing, even if you know nothing about the Kennedy assassination. It gives us personal depth into the most controversial killing in American history. A Friday in November is on stage at the theatre in Nestor Hall.


November 20-23, 2013 at 8 p.m.
November 21, 2013 at 3 p.m.

Special tribute performance on November 22, 2013 at 1 p.m.


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