The Ridgefield Playhouse in Fairfield County, CT, is the site of a new Sept. 11-inspired work, 9/11 Portraits, a collection of monologues by Jonathan Bell, staged by Mark Pinter, Sept. 6-7.
Frank Converse (Off-Broadway's Thief River), regional theatre veteran Gina Daniels (replacing the previously-announced Tamara Tunie), Broadway vet Anita Gillette (Mr. President, Chapter Two), Mark Pinter (a vet of "Another World"), Rebecca Schull (formerly of TV's "Wings"), Thomas Wiggin (the original Kirk of "As the World Turns") and Colleen Zenk-Pinter (known as Barbara on "As the World Turns") perform in the pieces, some inspired by real people and their responses to the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Playwright Bell calls the play "a remembrance project." It plays 8 PM Sept. 6 and 4 & 8 PM Sept. 7.
"It's a collection of stories, it's a full production, that I'm producing as a dedication to victims and survivors of the tragic events of Sept. 1," Bell told Playbill On-Line. "It's kind of a personal observation of individual stories. I wanted to remember people on the perimeter of the events. I thought the historical actions highlighting public heroes would be pretty well documented. I thought it would be interesting to amplify the personal experiences of everyday people. Throughout the course of creating it, I encountered several unusual stories surrounding the events of the 11th. The final product of 9/11 Portraits is a mixture of fictional and non-fictional accounts."
The play offers five monologues and a duologue, introduced by an artist character (played by Converse) who presents the people as pictures in a gallery, and references Picasso's "Guernica" painting. Bell culled stories from the internet or from newspapers and used them as starting points for his monologues. Among the portrait subjects:
Ruth (played by Gillette), the mother of a man who survived; and Nancy (played by Zenk-Pinter), the wife of a man who did not, because he was helping others get out. Nancy is resentful. Playwright Bell, of Wilton, CT, is a sometimes-actor who also writes, and has a screenplay (co-written with Pinter) in development. 9/11 Portraits, he said, is a "community awareness" project for Ridgefield Playhouse and its audience. He'll donate any proceeds to the venue, and has no plans to produce the work elsewhere, though the star talent will likely draw interest to the script. The playhouse is a performing arts center with 500 seats, offering films, concerts, dance, theatre and more.
Ridgefield Playhouse, 80 East Ridge, Ridgefield, CT. Tickets are $19. For information, call (203) 438-5795 or visit ridgefieldplayhouse.org.
— By Kenneth Jones