There have been dozens of great films, books, poems, songs and TV series specifically addressing 9/11 or its legacy – from Don DeLilillo's "Falling Man" to Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center" to the small-screen firehouse drama "Rescue Me."
But where are the iconic Sept. 11 plays?
"I don't know why our playwrights in America do not deal with this subject," says Danny Aiello, who starred in "The Shoemaker," one of the few plays to tackle the subject, which closed off-Broadway on June 14. "We thought there'd be a flood of stuff."
While the attacks prompted dozens of small works for the stage in the months immediately following Sept. 11 and the upcoming 10th anniversary promises another flurry of pieces no single work has emerged as a definitive theatrical statement akin to Bruce Springsteen's album "The Rising."
"It would seem that the theater community has dealt with 9/11 in a much more timid way than might have been expected at this point," says playwright Neil LaBute, one of the first to write about the horrors. "There doesn't seem to be a huge number of major works that have been thematically dedicated to those events."
But with the tenth anniversary on the horizon a spate of new plays are tackling the topic—including "By the Dawn's Early Light," two new one-acts by longtime LAByrinth Theatre Company member Mel Nieves about 9/11's impact on three Latino families.
The plays are a before-and-after duo. In the first, “Los Embrujados,” it’s a bright, clear September morning and a waiter at Windows on the World is studying for his citizenship test with his brother. The second follows a group of New Yorkers including a traumatized war veteran, a 9/11 widow, a soldier returning to war, and a fireman looking to regain his courage as they look to regain hope in the face of tragedy.
Produced by Apple Core Theater Company, the plays are set to debut at Studio Theater on New York City’s Theater Row on 42nd Street on Wednesday, August 24.
Nieves’ plays will have plenty of company: "Invasion!" which explores prejudice faced by Middle Easterners, has been brought back to The Flea Theater after its debut last year. There's also "Point of Departure" at the Theater for the New City, which looks at a post-9/11 airport terminal, and "The Shoemaker," which was expanded from its original one act into a full-length play.
And Tony Award-winner Richard Nelson's "Sweet and Sad" at the Public Theater, the second installment of his four-part cycle exploring the state of the nation through stories about the Apple family. Nelson says that even though there may not be many plays that directly address 9/11, that doesn't mean that day hasn't found its way into hundreds of scripts.
"I think the repercussions of 9/11 are in many, many plays in the last 10 years: The feelings of things being ripped out from under you suddenly. One moment it's one thing and the next it's another that sense of lack of solid footing, that sense of being adrift," he says. "All of those things have been very much present in a lot of plays in the last decade."
With reporting by The Associated Press.