EMAIL: 9/12 – A Play Helps Us Remember

At 3:30 AM, Wednesday, August 24, 2016 an earthquake devastated towns in Lazio, Umbria and Marche Italy. Two hundred and ninety people are dead. Thousands are homeless. Not feeling a rumble or hearing a sound during the night, I didn’t understand why Thursday morning I had close to 100 Facebook messages, texts or e-mails. Living in a small Southern Italian village, I learned about the tragedy, from friends in different time zones who reached into my heart asking if my husband and I were OK. I promptly turned on the television and followed the horror. I cried. I cried for the terror those people in the earthquake zone were going through and I cried because so many people cared enough about us to reach out to me. The similarity to my experience during 9/11 resonated within my soul. Different tragedy. Different country. Same internet connection. One moment before people were alive and a second later they were dead. After the earthquake, just like after 9/11 – when the Twin Towers fell – many people used the internet to reach out to their loved ones.

All of us who lived in the NYC metropolitan area on September 11, 2001 can tell you where they were when the first plane struck the Twin Towers at 8:46 AM, people in Italy will be able to tell you where they were at 3:30 AM on August 24, 2016 before the earthquake eliminated whole towns. Defining moments in our lives are branded in our memories. But what about those people who weren’t even born in 2001? How do we as theater people insure that moments in history can be remembered, re-visited and used as catalysts for social dialogue in a new decade? We write and produce plays about them.

September 11, 2016 is the 15th anniversary of 9/11. That anniversary provides communities, schools, universities and theaters with an opportunity for reflections and conversations that can range from feelings to immigration. My play, E-mail: 9/12,  based on e-mails I received in 2001, demonstrates how sharing, caring, grieving and even allowing a spark of humor to fly though cyberspace helped the United States get through the the painful aftermath of 9/11. Included with the script are a series of open ended questions developed with a social worker.

E-mail: 9/12, and other plays on the 9/11 topic found at Indie Theater Now, can be used to jump-start discussions on topics that are equally relevant today. Take a peak and start the conversations.

 – Midge Guerrera, Playwright

Photo – Author Midge Guerrera and her husband Jack Huber in Pontelandolfo, Italy