September 11 Theater

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Rosie Perez, Kristin Davis, Scott Cohen, Cynthia Nixon, J Dakota Powell, John Patrick Shanley, Orfeh, Josh Kessler, Michael Potts, Frank Pugliese are among the hundreds of playwrights and performers in Brave New World: American Theatre Response to 9/11.

A month after September 11, the Flea Theater, located near the World Trade Center site was nearly broke. Then the theater produced "The Guys," based on journalist Anne Nelson’s experience writing eulogies for a fire department captain who lost many of his men.

The show, which the the Los Angeles Times hailed as "one of the first high-profile artistic conduits for a city’s grief" not only brought the theater back economically, but set a precedent for productions based on personal accounts of the tragedy.

Playwright Bill Leavengood set his play about a tense encounter between a stock trader and a New Jersey shop owner from Saudi Arabia on the one-year anniversary. His one-act play, called "Steve," is now one of 50 works being performed as part of the series "Brave New World: American Theater Responds to 9/11."

Sigourney Weaver played the original Joan in "The Guys"

The production, called a "marathon" of pieces, includes plays by Eve Ensler, Christopher Durang and Neil LaBute, performed by Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Harvey Keitel, and nearly a hundred other stars.

Many theater productions have served as fundraisers for relief efforts, local firehouses, 9/11 charities or as community building events.

Broadway theaters — which depend on long running shows and tourists — have faced their own challenges. For months, Broadway attendance was down despite calls from Mayor Giuliani for people to help the city by going to dinner and a show.

The city gave Broadway a $2.5 million grant to stay afloat. A year later, ticket sales are back up, but given the sluggish economy and a drop in tourism many believe it will take years for sales to return to the pre-9/11 levels.


The List

Current and Forthcoming Productions

Title Playwright Director Venue  

Access Upheaval Crystal Field
Crystal Field
Various venues; will tour city streets, parks and playgrounds from all five boroughs.
Theater for the New City's annual street theater follows the aftermath of September 11. Call (212) 254-1109 for more information.

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AfterImages Dixon Place Theater, 309 E. 26th St.
A marathon of "reflective performances" by 33 artists from all disciplines, described as a consideration of how September 11 continues to resonate in our personal and artistic lives. Call (212) 532-1546 for more information.

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Barriers Rehana Mirza
Ash Sinha
HERE Arts Center, 145 6th Ave.
A look at September 11 through the eyes of a Muslim American family in New Jersey. Call (212) 647-0202 for more information.

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Brave New World Christopher Durang, Eve Ensler and many others.
Anne Bogart, Lloyd Richards and many others.
Town Hall, 123 W. 43rd St.
A marathon series of performances in response to September 11. Includes 50 short plays, music, visual arts, multimedia presentations and works written by children impacted by the World Trade Center attacks. Actors such as Matthew Broderick, Calista Flockhart, Rosie Perez and many more will take part.

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Five Bells For 9/11 Rich Swingle
Mac Nelson
Lamb's Theater, W. 44th between 6th Ave. and Broadway
A look at the separate stories of a fireman, a clergyman and a Morgan Stanley employee from 9/11.

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Last Night in New York Wednesday Kennedy
Wednesday Kennedy
Trilogy Theater, 341 W. 44th St.
A one-woman multimedia show that brings to life New York City in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11. Includes a recording of observations, confessions, political pronouncements and outbursts from the weeks following September 11. Kennedy's personal narrative is presented in vignettes and woven throughout the documentary: "We are on alert. The skyscrapers are empty, the subways are quiet, the frequent fliers are grounded, the concerts are canceled and we are filling churches, mosques and Fresh Kill trucks." Call (212) 663-0362 for more information.

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Return to the Upright Position Caridad Svich
Cherry Lane Alternative Theater
A shared testimony among a group of artists and writers about 9/11 and the aftermath. Will be read at Cherry Lane Alternative Theater, among other theaters in the New York area, throughout the fall and winter.

 
Shoeshine David Mamet
Austin Pendleton
The National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South
Mamet's one-act play in response to the events of September 11. Part of the Sept. 12 one-act play reading series produced by Food for Thought as a benefit for Engine Co. 23, which also includes a one-act play by Susan Charlotte and an excerpt from Dorothy Parker's Just A Little One. Call (212) 362-2560 for more information.

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Stage-Door Canteen Jeff Cohen
Tribeca Playhouse, 111 Reade St.
This variety show was first performed following September 11th for the recovery workers at Ground Zero. Features well-known names from Broadway and comedy such as Daisy Eagan, Colin Quinn from "Saturday Night Live" and stand-up comedian and actor Mario Catone. Call (212) 571-1576 for more information.

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The Guys Anne Nelson
Jim Simpson
The Flea, 41 White St.
Journalist Anne Nelson wrote this two-character play about her experience helping a fire captain prepare eulogies for eight of his men who died on September 11. "As a balm it is probably what the country needs," wrote the L.A. Weekly. Bill Murray and Sigorney Weaver were the original cast. Call (212) 206-1515 for more information.

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The September 11th Testimony Project Amy S. Green
Martin Segal Theater at the City University of New York Graduate Center, 365 5th Ave, and at St. Peter's Church, 54th St. and Lexington Ave
A play about September 11 survivors.

 
The Shoemaker/A Broken Sole Susan Charlotte
Austin Pendleton
The National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South
Charlotte's play, which deals directly with September 11, is part of a Sept. 12 one-act play reading benefit for Engine Co 23 produced by Food for Thought, along with David Mamet's 9/11 one-act Shoeshine and an excerpt from Dorothy Parker's Just A Little One. Call (212) 362-2560 for more information.

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Three Weeks After Paradise Israel Horovitz
Stanley Harrison
Thirteenth Street Repertory Theater, 50 W. 13th St.
A one-man show starring Mel England. A poetic monologue from a father worried about his children and the world they will inherit. Call (212) 675-6677 for more information.

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Over The Past Year

Autodelete://beginning dump of physical memory// Honour Kane
Staged reading at New Dramatists.
An elegy to those lost on 9/11, based on the image of a woman jumping from one of the towers.

 
Justice Herman Daniel Farrell III
Seret Scott
Staged reading at New Dramatists.
A morality play that questions the nature of justice through the interaction of gods and goddesses with humans. Set in the East Village before and after 9/11.

 
Life During Wartime Dominic Orlando
Dominic Orlando
HERE Arts Center
The play follows two New Yorkers in the two weeks following Sept. 11th as they try to come to terms with the way the events on that day affected their lives. Reviewer Martin Denton said, "What I particularly love about Life During Wartime is the way it explores one question that plagued so many of us after the attacks: how are we supposed to feel?" Call (212) 673-3852 for more information.

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Lovers Leapt Leslie Bramm
Scott Levy
Present Company Theatorium (Shown through June 2002)
A play about a couple who joins hands as they jump off of the World Trade Center. Two people who always wanted to connect, never did and now are forced to as they decide to face their fate hand-in-hand. Part of "Response: Stories About What Happened," a collection of four short plays written in response to the tragic events of September 11th. Call 212-420-8877 or 212-505-1700 x11 for more information.

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Nine-eleven Susanna Speier
HERE Arts Center, ran in July 2002.
A bull and a bear wander through dust-covered lower Manhattan at night, and statue and a bridge reflect on the recent past. Story told from the perspective of New York architectural icons. Call (212) 647-0202 for more information.

 
No One Julia Barclay
Julia Barclay
Present Company Theatorium (Shown through June 2002)
A meditation on where we are now. The primary themes are non-violence and war, the need for adequate translators, and the identity of the "enemy." A different group of actors assemble and read the play, creating a unique event each night. The performance is modeled after a jazz ensemble with rotating musicians coming in and out each night in order to jam, rather than a polished performance. Part of "Response: Stories About What Happened," a collection of four short plays written in response to the tragic events of September 11th. Call 212-420-8877 or 212-505-1700 x11 for more information.

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Our True Colors N.Y.U.'s Schubert Theatre (Shown July 2002)
A play created by New York City high school students from all five boroughs in response to the events of 9/11. Call (212) 988-7339 for more information

 
Rebel Without a Pause Reno
Comedian Reno's upfront show about loss, politics and patriotism opened a month after the attacks. The "rat-a-tat-tat pace is reassuring," said the New York Times. "We need performers like Reno to give us fresh views of the big picture." Visit website for more information. Opened in October 2001 at La MaMa, then moved to The Zipper and the Lion Theater.

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September 11, 2001...The Musical Response Erv Raible
Erv Raible
Danny's Skylight Cabaret Room (through April 2002)
A "decidedly non-frivolous" cabaret show about how the events of September 11th changed our lives that "channels into song pain, patriotism and heroic optimism that have merged since that fateful day," writes Backstage. Call (212) 206-6681 for more information.

 
The New Sign C. Rusch
Larry Rosen.
Present Company Theatorium (Shown through June 2002)
Set in a southern U.S. town outside a military base, two workers are putting up the letters on a new sign in front of a restaurant. As they do, they wonder about what the sign should (and shouldn't) say, and what is appropriate given their customers, their jobs and their feelings. Part of "Response: Stories About What Happened," a collection of four short plays written in response to the tragic events of September 11th. Call 212-420-8877 or 212-505-1700 x11 for more information.

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The Uncaring Dog Leslie Bramm
Virginia Scott
Present Company Theatorium (Shown through June 2002)
This extended metaphor for the events of 9/11 reflects on how random fate can be. Here a crippled young boy struggles with a dog at the end of a leash. Part of "Response: Stories About What Happened," a collection of four short plays written in response to the tragic events of September 11th. Call 212-420-8877 or 212-505-1700 x11 for more information.

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