This year's Sept. 11 performances north of the U.S. border will be fundraisers for local firefighting charities.
At Theatre Calgary in Alberta, for example, the project's proceeds will support the Calgary Firefighter Support Foundation and the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation. The play will be presented in two performances in the unique location of the Calgary Fire Department Training Centre.
The troupes involved include the Theatre Calgary, Belfry Theatre (Victoria), Vancouver Playhouse, Western Canada Theatre (Kamloops), Persephone Theatre (Saskatoon), Manitoba Theatre Centre (Winnipeg), Talk is Free Theatre (Barrie), The Grand Theatre (London), Theatre & Company (Kitchener), Sudbury Theatre Centre, 2b Theatre Company (Halifax) and The Charlottetown Festival.
Anne Nelson's play was born out of the need "to do something" in the aftermath of terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. (a highjacked plane intended for D.C. crashed in a Pennsylvania field when passengers fought back).
Nelson took action, as a writer, by offering her expertise to help a fire captain compose eulogies for his fallen colleagues and friends. Later, she would use the experience to write a 90-minute one-act play that shared and honored the profound grief all New Yorkers felt. When it was first produced in New York, the roles were played by Sigourney Weaver and Bill Murray. There will be separate Manhattan presentations of the work in September, as well.
The Sept. 11 Canadian Guys project was initiated by Theatre Calgary's artistic director Dennis Garnhum, who was a resident of New York until he joined Theatre Calgary in 2005.
"It seems the best way to mark this anniversary is to do a play about the events, as that is what we do best," Garnhum said in a statement. "This is a play that honors our brave firefighters who protect Canadian cities everyday. We love that 11 theatres are following our lead and joining us in this national theatrical project. I am proud of all these fine companies that have joined us in making this special event a national event."
Calgary fire chief Bruce Burrell stated, "We have been honored to be able to partner with Theatre Calgary and the Calgary Fire Fighters Association to promote this event that reminds us of the ultimate sacrifice of the New York firefighters on Sept. 11. This play brings home not only the message of the impacts of the events of that day, but shares the humanity of the people that become first responders."
For more information, visit theatrecalgary.com.