Flagstaff, AZ – John F. Kennedy was assassinated more than forty years ago. But to this day people still talk about how he was killed and whether the government tried to cover it up. That's the subject of the latest play at the Doris Harper-White Community Theater in Flagstaff. The play's title "Frame 312" refers to the moment in the infamous home movie that many people believe proves there was more than one gunman. Arizona Public Radio's Laurel Morales went to a rehearsal and has this story. Frame 312 takes the audience back to the sixties through its costumes, images and its music.
The playwright concocts an intriguing scenario in which certain frames had been edited out of the original version of the Zapruder film. Lynette, an assistant at Life Magazine in the 1960s, was one of a handful of people to view the original. And it had a profound effect on her for most of her life. Vicky Thompson plays Lynette in the 1990s.
THOMPSON: I become part of this chain of events that's bigger than anything I imagined my life would become. I've spent almost thirty years of my life trying to forget.
The political drama flashes back and forth in time, from the moment, thirty years ago, when Lynette decided to hold onto the film, to the nineties, when she struggles to deal with the consequences of this decision.
The play is directed by Northern Arizona University criminologist Nancy Wonders, who has volunteered with the Theatrikos Theater Company for 15 years. She saw the play in Phoenix and was compelled to bring it to Flagstaff.
WONDERS: These national tragedies such as the Kennedy assassination really at the moment of the 60s there was a loss of innocence for the nation but also the play demonstrates is such events change people's lives at a very individual and personal level.
Wonders was five years old when Kennedy was shot.
WONDERS: I remember watching the funeral. I mean I can remember that. It was one of my earliest memories of a major event like that. My earliest political memories as a very young child were shaped by the assassinations of the 60s of King, of the Kennedy brothers I feel it did change my consciousness about the nation and the kind of risk we all face. But I have no doubt my sensibilities as a sociologist was shaped by the influence of these events.
In the first act Laura Burt who plays Lynette in the 1960s watches the film, which can't be seen by the audience. Her eyes widen and fill with tears.
Breaking it down to individual frames president is shot initially at frame 215 President is shot a second time frame 312.
Lynette and her boss at Life Magazine are selecting which frames of the film they will publish.
You shouldn't publish the film. We shouldn't? No, it's too upsetting to people. But it's history. We have an obligation. I understand that. Watching this film it made me feel sick.
Wonders says she isn't trying to convince the audience that the conspiracy theory is true. But she does hope to provoke them to think critically about government secrecy and the media.
WONDERS: I think what's important there needs to be a national dialogue about that. I found it very interesting there was an article about the Oklahoma City bombing. There were four minutes missing at the front of FBI tapes that were finally made public. With 9/11 many videos talking about was there a conspiracy? These are contemporary issues. I would say even the financial collapse. People are saying are we being told everything?
Wonders says the play takes on even more meaning now just a month after Ted Kennedy died.
Frame 312 runs through October 24th at the Doris Harper-White Community Playhouse in Flagstaff.
For Arizona Public Radio I'm Laurel Morales in Flagstaff.