In 2001, twelve days after the 9/11 attacks, Anne Nelson, a teacher of journalism at Columbia, performed an act of kindness for a NYC fire captain. He had lost eight men in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers and needed help writing their eulogies.
That experience became the basis for The Guys, Nelson’s first play, which received a production at the Flea Theatre, just 7 blocks from ground zero three months later. Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver played the fireman and writer. Since then, The Guys has been produced throughout the U.S. and in 15 foreign countries, and was turned into a feature film. This September, there will be more than 75 productions being staged across the country.
Nelson recently told the Episcopal News Service: “One of my motivations in writing the play was to counter the bellicose noise in our media environment. The administration in Washington rushed into war and postures of revenge. Television blared the music of brass bands and shows of military force. What I saw around me in New York was quite different — a dreamlike landscape of kindness and grace. I remember that it was difficult to stand for very long on a bus, because people were always offering their seats to each other. Strangers spoke to each other, and offered consolation. We wept, publicly. I was determined that this reality should be recorded too, and that posterity should know that we weren’t all marching to the same drumbeat. Some of us — especially in New York — moved in a very different direction. I was glad that the play and the feature film version of The Guys at the very least recorded that reality.”
The Guys will be produced here this weekend by Rep Stage, as part of its newly launched Salon Series. Nigel Reed will play the role of Nick, the fire captain, and Yvonne Erickson makes a rare appearance as the writer, under the direction of Rep Stage Artistic Director Michael Stebbins. There will be four performances in the Monteabaro Recital Hall on the campus of Howard Community College in Columbia, MD. Tickets are $15. More information is here.