UNA Theatre recognizes anniversary of 9/11

The UNA Theatre Department will perform their production of “The Guys” Sept. 9-11 at the George S. Lindsey Theatre. The performance is in recognition of the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

“(The show is) about two people trying to recover from a huge traumatic event like that and not knowing what to do,” said Charlton James, associate professor of theatre.

James said he and Associate English Professor Lesley Peterson are the only two actors in the play.

James said the setting of the play takes place 12 days after 9/11. He plays the main character, fireman Nick Flanagan.

“He is the captain of a fire company in New York, and when the Trade Centers fell, he lost eight of his men,” he said. “He has been asked by the families to write a eulogy at the service. It’s not a funeral because they haven’t found the bodies yet. For obvious reasons, he has a lot of anxiety because he’s not a writer, and with the circumstances it’s a bad time to have composure and do it the right way.”

James said performing in this play has helped him heal emotionally.

“I lived in New York during that time, and I watched the towers fall from the top of my apartment complex,” he said. “After 9/11, I only stayed in New York for nine months, and part of that time I was on an acting contract out of town. I was never comfortable there again, so I decided to come back home to Alabama. I met my wife, we had a child, I began working at UNA and I never went back to New York.”

Peterson plays the character Joan, a journalist. Peterson said her character helps Nick write the eulogy.

“My character and Nick meet each other through a mutual friend, and we work together to write this eulogy,” she said.

This cast is the same one from 2011, said David Ruebhausen, associate professor of theatre.

“This is a very tough play, and we feel for the subject matter that age appropriate actors are important,” he said. “Also, it is happening so close to the beginning of the year that it’s difficult sometimes to get the students in earlier.”

It is understandable for the actors to be professors, said freshman Corbin Craig.

“The play covers a very sensitive subject matter, but I also think students should be given the chance to act in a play like this,” he said.

Ruebhausen said he chose this play because it is about the emotional side of 9/11.

“There are not that many plays about 9/11,” he said. “Most of them are political in nature. This one was very non-political, and it is really about the firemen. It focused on the firemen and how the fire chief saw them as just normal people doing their job and not the heroes the media portrayed them to be.”

James said the play provides the audience a chance to see this emotional aftermath in person.

“It really does capture what it was like, those few days after (the attack),” he said. “A lot of times as an actor you read a play and it seems like a play. There’s something about this play, I don’t know if it’s because I was there that day, but it feels real.”

Tickets cost $5 for students, faculty and staff and $10 for others.