Adirondack Regional Theater Produces 9/11 Play to Benefit Regional First Responders
Three months after the attacks of September 11, 2001, a play was premiered in New York. Written by Anne Nelson, the two-person play features a fictional New York City fire captain seeking the assistance of a writer to help him praise the men he lost when the towers collapsed. Twenty years later, productions of “The Guys” are performed across the country. In upstate New York, the Adirondack Regional Theater is staging the play for the benefit of regional first responders.
“I don’t know what to do,” says fire captain Nick, in The Guys. “The call came in and they left and we haven’t found them yet. You know, what can I, what can I say to the families? What am I going to say?”
Joan asks, “How many did you say there are?”
“Eight men. I lost eight men.”
In the production of the Adirondack Regional Theater, actor Jim Calnon plays Fire Captain Nick who turns to writer Joan, played by Lee Ann Thomas, for help writing the eulogy. Thomas says that even though people are fictitious, the emotions are intense.
“They are very alive and real in the way he creates them for us. There are still times when I’m engrossed as Jim shares his interactions and memories of The Guys in his character and I feel like I’ve met and lost them.
“You know, Barney, he was a, he was a steelworker. He could do anything with metal, “Nick laughs.” And he had that sense of humor. You know I really mean it, it just came out of him and took you with you, you know? But somehow he did, you know, got us all going. “
Calnon is the former mayor of Plattsburgh:
“First of all, the script is very good. He does a really good job of guiding you. But I know a lot of first responders here, for example, who are real people with real lives and they’re more than their uniform or they’re more than anything they did last night. And I think that’s an important thing that we have to remember. You know, as one of Lee Ann’s lines says, and I’m going to paraphrase it, we’re talking about ordinary people doing amazing things.
Calnon says the play is still relevant and important 20 years after 9/11.
“There is a generation that only knows this from a history book. They don’t have the emotional connection to what we have. They don’t understand the real horror of a terrorist attack like this and I think we need to remember these things.
“Part of the purpose of this show,” says Lee Ann, “is to honor those who serve right now and support those who would make this important decision to serve others, even at their own risk.”
The Adirondack Regional Theater received grants and sponsorships that paid for production costs, so all box office donations go to regional first responders and nonprofits. Director Tom Lavin:
“We’re just trying to do our part. Trying to benefit our local heroes and also be able to truly honor the people who are no longer there because of what happened twenty years ago: says Lavin. “We give away whatever we get at the box office, but if someone can’t do the show and they want to donate, they can find us on Facebook or the internet. Send us the money and we’re going to pass it on to the local responders. The most important thing is that these two bring their characters to life. You know there’s a helmet and a shield. But there’s a person behind it and these stories are being told. Take them home. “
The Adirondack Regional Theater continues its performance this week. On September 11, they will be joined by the Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir at the Hartman Theater on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus.
Readings and performances of the play take place throughout the region by various societies, including Schenectady’s civic players.