The Guys, an Off-Broadway drama about a fire chief who must write eulogies for his fallen men after Sept. 11, seems to have ushered in a trend of 9/11-inspired theatrical works.
Brave New World, a three-day concert of theatrical pieces inspired by the American tragedy, will dawn the week of Sept. 9 in Manhattan, and Off-Broadway's Reno Rebel without a Pause recently addressed events of Sept. 11. Next, the Ridgefield Playhouse in Fairfield County, CT, is the site for 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, Tamara Tunie, Colleen Zenk-Pinter, Mark Pinter and Anita Gillette have been announced to play roles in what Bell called "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 (yet to be cast) who presents the people as pictures in a gallery. Bell culled stories from the internet or from newspapers and used them as jumping off points for his own versions of the personal biography. Among the portrait subjects:
Ruth (played by Anita Gillette, the Broadway vet), the mother of a man who survived; and Nancy (played by Colleen Zenk-Pinter, of "As the World Turns"), 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