Theater

Discovering a Way: A Remembrance of 9/11 on Its Tenth Anniversary

A Santa Fe Production of Anne Nelson’s play "The Guys" at Warehouse 21

Date September 2, 2011 at 11:13 AM

Author Jeffrey Laing

Publication SantaFe.com

Categories Community Performing Arts

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A group of Santa Fe’s most talented theater professionals will mount a full benefit series of performances of Anne Nelson’s "The Guys" for Warehouse 21, opening on September 1 and running through September 11. This play had its genesis within days of the attacks on the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center.

Nelson was asked to help a fire captain prepare eulogies for the eight men in his company whom he lost on 9/11. Nelson felt powerless and the captain was almost inarticulate with grief when they met for five hours to hammer out fitting final statements on these men’s lives. This meeting served to inspire Nelson to complete the play commissioned by The Flea Theater (seven blocks from Ground Zero) in a week and the opening starring Sigourney Weaver and Bill Murray took place December 4, 2001.

"The Guys" is a two-hander with Joan and Nick meeting for the first time in this moment of national tragedy. Speaking awkwardly and haltingly at first, Nick begins to loosen up under Joan’s empathetic encouragement and support and his retelling of the courage and decency of his men. He presents these working class public servants with all their personal tics and foibles. The resulting humor enlivens not only the interplay between the characters, but also breathes life into the nearly anonymous firefighters. As both characters warm to the task at hand, Joan and Nick share a personal moment of connection that is based on their love of their beleaguered city. This small moment both underscores the value of language and craft in moving into the future, but also suggests the process from which the rebuilding of lives must commence.

The play is directed by Mona Malec and features Karen Leigh as Joan and Scott Harrison as Nick. This trio has worked together previously in critically-acclaimed productions for Ironweed Productions as well as performing (and directing) for a number of local theater companies.

In an essay written a few years after the opening of "The Guys," Nelson attempted to put both the experience of 9/11 and the writing of her play into context:

I don’t think that terms like move on and closure offer us much. The very fact we use them suggests we’re forcing the issue. Instead, the aftermath of the attack unfolds in chapters over time, and we have no choice but to move through them as they come. The question is, What will we learn from this experience? One place to start could be the simple but demanding lesson of the firehouse: Honor belongs to those who “use their talent for the betterment of the company.”

"The Guys" is a testament of how well Nelson has learned the wisdom of the firehouse.

Performances of "The Guys" will take place Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 4 p.m. at Warehouse 21,  1614 Paseo de Peralta.

Tickets are $12 and $10 for students and seniors. Thursday September 8 is a pay-what-you-can performance.

For reservations and further information for "The Guys," please contact Warehouse 21 at (505) 603-1370 or at www.warehouse21.org.

Photos by Carrie Mccarthy

Pictured are Karen Leigh (Joan) and Scott Harrison (Nick).

 

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