Thursday, August 25, 2011

The attacks inspired the great books and great films. But where are the big plays? When approaching its 10th anniversary, Andrew Dickson reports on a daring attempt to bring this order

It 'sa feeling of fear in the air. People are milling around, trying to work their cell phones. Some of them pounding the keys that are willing the person to bring it 're calling others gaze skyward, waiting patiently to be connected to the signal. In the background there 'sa recording of a man singing softly: "New York, I love you, but you' re Bringing Me Down". The scene is so clear, so scary, it could be a photo. And each of us could supply the caption: 11 September 2001.

This is a dress rehearsal for the decade, instead of behind the scenes at the Union Chapel in London. An ambitious new piece of theater, directed by Rupert Goold and his company, Headlong, she focuses on the history of 9 / 11 on the 10th To tell anniversary of the event. In a few days, the occupation of their actual venue to relocate - a converted warehouse at St Katharine Docks, near the Thames. Time is short, worn nerves. Moments later, Goold trying to run a different section, but nobody can quite work out which bit he says. "I think it has that cut," says one of the cast. The stage manager frowns. Everyone reaches for her script.

It looks complicated, I say, if Goold breaks for lunch. He looks uncomfortable. "Now 's always the point at which directors are to be most at risk with her. ... This is a very" He doesn' t finish the sentence.

How do you solve a problem like 9 / 11? Although Goold and his team are hardly the first theater to the attacks of 11th Respond to September - a year after the event, there was even a three-day theater festival in New York dedicated to the topic - most writers who have gone near it are so inclined, or done in miniature. Neil LaBute 's The Mercy Seat (soon to be in Islington \ be revived' s Pleasance) is an intimate two-handed sword with a couple having an affair, to see the disaster as an opportunity to begin a new life. One of the first American plays to be written after the event, Anne Nelson 's The Guys fight, zooms in close, with a focus lost on a New York City Fire Department captain praises crew for his writing. The attacks inspired the great novelists, including Don DeLillo and Jonathan Safran Foer, and great filmmakers, including Oliver Stone and Paul Greengrass - but not many great playwrights.

There are obvious difficulties of scale, and also of taste, for a piece of history that feels, to many people, uncomfortably raw. Even 10 years on, something about it seems just too real to represent in the flesh. Goold agrees: "We've been very vigilant about what a bad 9/11 show would look like. When we announced the project, there was an assumption that we'd be running around going, 'Oh God, the building's falling,' something crass like that. But that's not what the show is."

If someone fix this, it 'sa theater alchemists like Goold. Besides working his magic on classic texts such as Macbeth (transformed into a Stalinist parable in 2007) and The Merchant of Venice (set in a money-hungry Las Vegas earlier this year), he also has corporate malfeasance in the rivets made theater: Lucy Prebble ' s Enron was catapulted by the director into a spectacle of blood-red computer screens, screaming monsters and city dealer turns over the stage. It opened at the Chichester Festival in 2009 before being sold in London, but prematurely closed on Broadway after being savaged by the critics - some beats Goold, because the topic was too painful for the U.S. audience in the wake of the credit crisis: " The thing that the Americans can 't look, is that money is the root of the whole thing. "

A key component of the Long Head of the team's choreographer Scott Ambler. A classically trained dancer who has performed with physical theater company DV8 and created works for Matthew Bourne and Rambert, Ambler those frantic traders at Enron and the hectic world choreographed the lap-dancing bars and street scenes that its earthquake in London, completed last year.

Ambler decade and was instrumental in trying to find a physical language catalyze the words. "It 's interesting," he says. "All the different voices and strands, trying to play around with what kind of movement, we can use." Some links are direct, as in this phone scene that turns into a kind of soft-shuffle dance to the music, all clutching their cell phones. Sometimes they 're less so than in any other section, if a text is reminiscent of Simon Schama September 11, as the cast perform gestures to read the notorious photos taken at Abu Ghraib coverage. At times, the choreography is reminiscent of the self-mocking style of Joan Littlewood 's Oh! What a Lovely War, in others, it 's pure Broadway razzmatazz. "The movement," says Goold, \ tends "to the glue, or the soup, that's all \ are explicitly reflected a text's coming from sometimes it is \. '; Often it' s sitting on the other hand \. "

Where they were both on 9 / 11? "In LA," says Ambler, "which shut down completely. They were convinced they were going to take place next to his." Goold looks embarrassed. "I was at the Bristol Old Vic, rehearsing a one-man show with Pete Postlethwaite, who was a bit drunk. My wife left me six missed calls, starting with 'I' m in the gym, the first plane 's just gone in,' on 'on the back to come to London, we' re under attack! \ laughs "He. "Was listening to them one after the other completely crazy."

That 's the thing with 9 / 11, I say: everyone has their own story. Goold's true. "It sounds glib, perhaps, but what samples I 've implemented this is that the days between the first plane into the north tower down over the length of a game it does not have is that this unit Aristotelean. -. a place for a while, I think that relationships with people 's memory in a way, it feels like it validates our approach "Or you might say, al-Qaeda \ ..' s: This was, after all, a meticulous attack on live TV, a supreme, shocking planned piece of political theater. Goold nods thoughtfully. "Great God, stage equipment. Yes."


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