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9-11 Theatrical Scrapbook Opens

September 11, 2002

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Where were you on Sept. 11 was the dominant theme of the first evening of offerings by ``Brave New World,″ a voluminous theatrical scrapbook of memories, observations, emotions and more about the events of a year ago. The three-day event runs through Wednesday at Town Hall.

Bringing together the more than 50 plays, songs, sketches, poems and oral histories _ spread over four performances _ was the idea of playwright and producer J. Dakota Powell, who has been working on the project since last January.

Before Monday’s marathon opening night, which lasted nearly four hours, Powell described ``Brave New World″ as a way to provide a creative forum to deal with the issues created after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The stagings _ each piece had its own director _ were simple. Most of the works were acted with scripts in hand, and the settings were just as spare, sometimes a few chairs positioned in front of a blue and orange backdrop of swirling universe.

Among the highlights:

``Nine Ten,″ a brief play by Warren Leight, author of ``Side Man,″ deals with a group of belligerent New Yorkers who gather for jury duty. Each has a selfish desire to get out of serving. The date is Sept. 10, 2001, when trivial concerns still seemed very important.

Actress Dana Ivey, off-Broadway’s original ``Driving Miss Daisy,″ portrays two different women in two separate works.

In ``The Other Line,″ written by ``Daisy″ playwright Alfred Uhry, she is a meddlesome mother planning the wedding of her daughter, whose fiance works in the World Trade Center.

Ivey followed it with Christopher Durang’s ``Skylab,″ playing a woman who commits suicide in the 1970s because she was afraid of being hit by a falling Skylab. Now, she wonders about being reincarnated into today’s troubled times.

In Charles Evered’s ``Adopt a Sailor,″ Bebe Neuwirth and Michael Nouri are in a disintegrating marriage. But they don’t let the events of Sept. 11 stop them from fighting. Neil Patrick Harris is the man caught in the middle of their verbal cross fire.

Neil LaBute looks at another unhappy relationship in ``Land of the Dead,″ with Kristin Davis and Paul Rudd playing a couple who argue over a momentous decision in their lives _ on the morning of Sept. 11.

Sarah Tuft’s ``Bolivar″ is an eyewitness account by a photographer who watches people jump from the burning towers. It was followed by ``Impact,″ performed by Davis and Jason Patric, and written by Jose Rivera. A man and a woman hold hands as they jump from a tower. As they fall, they celebrate in quiet statements of fact the joys that have made life worth living.

The emotional high point of the evening was Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s ``A Song for LaChanze.″ It is based on a poem Ahrens wrote for the memorial service for LaChanze’s husband, Calvin, who died in the World Trade Center attacks.

LaChanze, who starred in the songwriting team’s ``Once on This Island,″ sang the number for him Monday night to rapturous applause.

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