The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 left an indelible mark on the soul of America. All who witnessed that day have their own story of how the events affected them. At the crossroads of these stories lies the emotional truth.
This idea— to bring together numerous narratives in an effort to construct a more complete picture of the events of 9/11— is the heart of 110 Stories, Sarah Tuft’s “docu-play” to be performed in commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the attacks.
Narrating the stories
Tuft, herself a 9/11 volunteer, conducted interviews with dozens of witnesses, weaving them together into a production that acts as a piece of theatrical journalism. “I think the show captures the experiences of people from many different backgrounds, including those whose voices are underrepresented in the aftermath, such as homeless victims,” said Angie Patchett, director of the Toledo Rep production.
“I think 110 Stories brings out a really strong human interest and makes 9/11 more personal. We hear stories the audience is able to relate to because the characters are down to earth and have relatable backgrounds.”
Patchett was first exposed to Tuft’s play at the Rep this past spring. Hearing that the group was looking for directors for the new season, Patchett began reading through shows that were scheduled to be performed and became emotionally invested in 110 Stories.
“When I read 110 Stories it took me about a week,” she said. “Not because the script was that long but because it was so powerful that I choked up every page or so and was too overcome to read more.”
The original production of the show, in New York in 2011, featured luminaries such as Samuel L. Jackson and Jeremy Piven in a staged reading of the material. Patchett said her own approach to the production has been more organic, with concepts arising through working with her cast.
“When we had our first read-through we talked about where we were that day and our personal experiences with the event. We use our personal experiences to breathe life into the stories being told on the stage,” she said.
“We are not doing a staged reading but there are moments where the actors interact with the audience and others where they interact with each other. The actors are doing a great job of memorizing this very difficult material.”
Gaining new perspective
So much has changed in the world since the attacks took place 15 years ago, and so much that influences our modern society began on September 11, 2001. Patchett said she hopes that her production will provide viewers a chance to both reflect and learn.
“In the end, I hope that the audience will gain a new perspective and understanding through the human interest aspect of our production, and that they realize there is a strength and fortitude that cannot be matched of those who have been through a tragedy and come out on the other side with hope.”
8pm Friday, September 9 & Saturday, September 10,
2:30pm & 7pm Sunday, September 11.
The Toledo Repertoire Theatre’s 10th Street Stage | 16 10th St.