The work, to be directed by Mark Pinter, is a series of seven personal tales, some inspired by real people and their responses to the 2001 terrorist attacks. The Ridgefield show starred Pinter, Frank Converse, regional theatre veteran Gina Daniels, Broadway vet Anita Gillette, Rebecca Schull, Thomas Wiggin and Colleen Zenk-Pinter. The casting notice indicated that some actors may reprise their roles.
Bell, speaking to Playbill On-Line in 2002, said "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. 11. 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 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. The piece was originally titled 9/11 Portraits.