Getting to Know Detective Richard M. Sims

Richard M. Sims (foreground) with Lee Harvey Oswald at the Dallas Police Dept.

One of the perks of playing a real person in a play based on a major historical event is the amount of research material that’s readily available at your fingertips. Just Googling “‘Richard M. Sims’ Dallas Police” delivers a veritable treasure trove of information, including a link to the full testimony he gave to the Warren Commission, links to autographed memorabilia, an interview with his partner Elmer T. Boyd about Jack Ruby killing Oswald, and Mr. Sims’ obituary. It’s that last link that is unfortunate; because it means I don’t have the opportunity to meet or speak with the man I am portraying in Sunny Afternoon, but at least there is a copious amount of material from which I can extrapolate a strong sense of who he was.

I’ve devoured these articles, and many more like them, for weeks now as we get rolling on Sunny Afternoon. In addition to scouring the internet, I’ve been reading A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination, which is an absolutely fascinating read and does a lovely job of conveying the chaos and uncertainty surrounding the assassination, and the tumultuous months that followed.

As an actor portraying an actual historical figure, I am obligated to work steadily towards creating a very clear and intimate understanding of Det. Sims, as well as the actual details and events surrounding the story we’re telling on stage with Sunny Afternoon so that I may portray my part as truthfully as possible. I hope I do them justice.

It also bears mentioning that, in doing all of this research, I continue to be impressed by the level of detail writer/director Christian Levatino has managed to adhere to with these stories, and the multitude of characters contained within. He’s managed to distill order from chaos and crystalize significant moments in time authentically so all may experience them. No easy feat. If you want to get a sense of what I’m talking about, take a look at this promo video we’ve put together:

Three incredible stories opening three weeks from tomorrow. Tickets are on sale now. Grab them while you still can. And if you can spare a few bucks to help us get there with the absolute best show possible, we’d really appreciate it.

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