A Play To Honor The Dead And Living

Liberty Tribune - September 10, 2009

by Michael Westblade

Thursday, 10 September 2009 00:00 The Bell Road Barn Players' latest play, opening the day before Sept. 11, is a story written to honor the firefighters who died on Sept. 11 as well as honor those still serving today.

The play, "The Guys," written by Anne Nelson, a professor at the Columbia Journalism School, is a simple piece with two characters and one set, lasting about 90 minutes with no intermission.

Based on a true story, the play revolves around a writer who volunteers to help a New York City fire captain write eulogies for the men he lost on Sept. 11.

Doug Ford, the director of the play and a Liberty resident, said it's a play he's wanted to do for a number of years and one that's given him a better appreciation for firefighters.

"It struck a chord in me," he said. "So often we forget what people do for us every day and focus on tragic events. This is about remembering the people who risk their lives to save others. I've grown to respect these people a lot more since being involved in this show."

The play is also very simple, Ford said, which drew him to it as well.

"I really like this show because it doesn't require a huge cast or a big set to tell the story," he said. "It just focuses on the two characters and the words that come out of their mouths. That's what we do with this. We use their voices, faces and bodies to tell the story."

While the play touches on a lot of tragedy and loss, Michael Sembroff, the actor who plays the fire captain, said it also incorporates some humor and more than being a sad story, it's a celebration of life.

"It's a play of discussions about ourselves and about people; that's the way I look at it," he said. "It's got a certain amount of humor to in it, but it's very naturalistic. It's how one person deals with a tragedy in remembering his men fondly."

But if people come out of the theater thinking anything after the play, Ford said he hopes the audience will at least gain a newfound respect for the firefighting profession.

"I hope they gain a great respect for what these people do for us and not just what they did that day," he said. "It was just an ordinary day and extraordinary circumstances happened and extraordinary actions followed by firefighters, police and EMTs. Every day these people put their lives on the line and they don't know when they take that call if they're coming home that night."

The play opens at the McCoy Meetin' House on the campus of Park University today, Sept. 10, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 13, with additional showings Thursday, Sept. 17, through Sunday, Sept. 20. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays the play begins at 7:30 p.m. and on Sundays, it starts at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $5 for children. Police, fire and emergency services personnel get a $1 discount.

Tickets can be purchased from the Bell Road Barn Players Web site at www.bellroadbarn.com or by calling the box office at 587-0218.