1on1: A play about 9/11 titled "110 Stories"

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — We get a peek at and find out about the docu-play "110 Stories," which is being presented by ShenanArts in Staunton, this Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 12-15. There is a special, free showing for first responders on Wednesday, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m.


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Below is a full transcript of the interview:

Bob Corso: This is part of a scene from 110 Stories, a docu-play about 9-11 being put on by ShenanArts.

Joanne Thompson: When we first got here, there were hundreds and hundreds of boxes of Tylenol, Band-Aids, you name it, that needed to be separated. So, we just started unloading the boxes as fast as we could with tons more coming in. We had t-shirts and socks and underwear, even extra, extra large for the really, really big guys. And the workers coming in from Ground Zero, how grateful they were.

Joanne Thompson: They'd been down in the rubble. Some of them hadn't washed, you know, the kinds of things that you take for granted.

Joanne Thompson: And they were all so thankful for even a bar of soap. I mean, you would've thought that I was giving them $1 million when it was just a toothbrush.

Bob Corso: This is Joanne Thompson and we're joined by John Craft, the director of 110 Stories. So John, tell us about this play.

John Craft: 110 Stories was written by Sarah Tuft based on a number of emails, personal recollections as well as people that she met during the 9-11 day and the days after in the recovery efforts. She compiled all these stories from 27 different total characters in this play and distilled them into a story that runs through act one and act two that tells us about the day, the demolition of the buildings, the airplane crashes, as well as the unification afterwards and how people came together to rebuild New York City.

Bob Corso: Okay. Joanne, what struck you about this play?

Joanne Thompson: Well, the thing that struck me the most was the fact that of course we all think about the emergency service personnel and the people that were actually in the Towers and in and around that area that were obviously affected and their families.

Joanne Thompson: But for me, what struck me about this play was there were other people in that society that we didn't, I never thought of like the homeless people. How did it affect them? How did they go out and contribute in their own way? The iron workers, a simple mother trying to figure out where her child is because they had shut the schools down. They were just everyday people that you just didn't really, I didn't really think about. And so, by doing this play and listening to all of these stories and helping to bring them to life, really put me in a different frame of mind in terms of just how large the scope this was and how it still continues to affect us.

Bob Corso: The play, John, runs this Thursday to Sunday with a special showing on Wednesday, tomorrow, which is 9-11?

John Craft: Yes, sir. We wanted to offer an opportunity for emergency services workers to be recognized in our communities, give them an opportunity to walk into a theater, maybe a place they've never been and hear something that they'll definitely connect with. Through their day-to-day job, they're always the ones that are running towards these tragedies. So we wanted to thank them. We wanted to offer them a safe space to hear these stories and to remember what happened that day and to thank them for their continuing sacrifice.

Bob Corso: So it's free tomorrow for them and a guest.

John Craft: Yes, sir. That's exactly right.

Bob Corso: Okay. What will we see next?

John Craft: Next, we're going to hear from Bill Martin who plays Father Bob Deming. Father Bob was an Episcopal priest that came and relieved another priest at one of the morgues and he's counseling some firefighters about their grief.

Bill Martin: I've had experience with grieving in my ministry, but I was not prepared for the emotional breakdown of all these men who formed these honor guards. They were literally shaking with their tears. It's a bittersweet thing for a fireman when they identify a body. They can go to the family and say, "We found your loved one," and that brings a certain degree of comfort, but it also brings an end. Now they know beyond all reasonable doubt that the loved one is dead. The one word they don't like to hear is closure. That is a hated word because you don't close a book on a loved one's life. And frequently, the news media would ask, "Will finding the body bring you to closure?" And most people just walk away. The reporters didn't seem to understand that was just the wrong word because even with my son being dead for five years now, it's never gone to closure.

Bill Martin: I have learned to laugh again live again. Think of the humorous moments, but it's not like closing a book and putting it on a shelf. The correct word is healing. Healing can begin when a body is found, the mystery has been solved in a sense. I know I'm jumping around, but when I was by the gate at Saint Paul's shaking hands with the policemen and firemen and workers as they came in, a construction worker said to me, "Father, you don't want to shake my hand. It's dirty. So I knelt down on the ground and rubbed my hand in the dirt and said, "Now is my hand dirty enough to shake yours?" And he almost started to cry and then I showed him where he could wash his hands and eat and rest and what have you.

Bob Corso: The play 110 Stories runs this Thursday through Sunday, September 12th to 15th at ShenanArts in Staunton. There's a special free screening for first responders tomorrow, Wednesday at 7 PM. For tickets on Thursday through Sunday, go to shenanarts.org ... or at the door.