"I'm from Texas, and we were so exited to have him [in the state]. I went to a Catholic school, and I had come back into school after recess when an announcement came that President Kennedy had been shot and killed. We grabbed our mantillas and ran over to the Catholic Church and prayed," Bundick says. "I spent the next four days glued to the TV, watching the funeral and the aftermath of it. He was such a glamorous figure, and then he was gunned down in the street."
Bundick and Beth Gilleland have spent the past several months working on It Happened in Texas: Dallas, Jack Ruby, and the Lone Star State. The piece premieres this week at Illusion Theater's Fresh Ink series.
Bundick and Gilleland have been friends for years, since they were both students at the University of Minnesota.
Bundick's interest in the assassination has built over the past five decades, from writing a book about it with a friend as a 13-year-old to reading innumerable books on the subject. She has even, with the help of her Texas roots, done first-hand reporting in an effort to get to the bottom of a particularly murky event in American history.
Still, a theatrical presentation had not crossed her mind until a Bundick had a conversation with Illusion's Bonnie Morris. "I talked about the first-hand research I had done in Texas and she was fascinated. She said, 'Tessie, why not do a theatrical presentation on the JFK assassination?'"
In the piece, Bundick and Gilleland examine the event from 1963 and the long-reaching ramifications -- and the continued theories as to what actually happened in Dallas and who was ultimately responsible. The reading also includes numerous photographs and a 13-minute film.
For Gilleland, it has also been a chance to learn more about the event. "I didn't know there was an ad taken out by ultra-conservatives accusing Kennedy of treason," she says. "I have found it all fascinating. And when Tessie talks about it, it is really interesting. She is so interested, and she tells it in an engaging way."
Bundick doesn't favor one theory over another in the show. "We're looking at the whole canopy," she says, noting that the much of the confusion can be laid at the feet of the Warren Commission. "If the report had been done correctly, a lot of these theories wouldn't have come forward."
In the end, "I just hope people will learn something. As with all historical events, people are starting to forget it. I want people to not forget it," Bundick says.
IF YOU GO
Fresh Ink: It Happened in Texas: Dallas, Jack Ruby, and the Lone Star State
8 Thursday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday
Cowles Center for the Performing Arts, 528 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis.
For information, call 612.339.4944 or visit online