LAGS’ “The Guys” Commemorates 9/11 at Schenectady Civic Playhouse
This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center buildings on 9/11. Anne Nelson’s play “The Guys” is being given three performances this weekend, Friday through Sunday. The play is about an editor, Joan (Mary Darcy) who is helping a New York Fire Department captain prepare eulogies for men under his command who he lost in the 9/11 attacks. It’s being presented by the Local Actors Guild of Saratoga at Schenectady Civic Playhouse, 12 South Church Street in the Stockade neighborhood. I corresponded with JJ Buechner, Artistic Director of LAGS who will be playing Nick, the New York Fire Department captain by email.
Patrick White: You were very busy producing theater online during the lockdown. What did you learn about theater on Zoom?
JJ Buechner: I really embraced it. In the beginning, I was a bit of a skeptic but as I produced my own works it rejuvenated me as an actor and a playwright. It made me look at writing and acting in a different way. I ended up writing more during the pandemic than I do in a year. To me it was fun, I was able to perform with people all over the country and the UK. Zoom theater got a bad rap because people wanted to see live theater and be with people on stage but I truly believe from the bottom of my heart that it saved a lot of people during a tough time. Also, it was fun to see cats and dogs make surprise appearances.
How did the idea for “The Guys” come up and what resonates for you in this play?
Mary Darcy and I have been talking about doing this show for a long time. Once things started open we said, “Let’s just do it. We need to be working again.” The thing that resonates with me is the idea of two people who under normal circumstances would never cross paths but this thing happened. This monumental thing that takes two people from opposite worlds and puts them together to create eulogies as a gift to the families of the fallen is really powerful.
Beyond it being a historical document and we’re commemorating the 20th anniversary of 9/11, what does the play have to say to us today in the midst of a pandemic?
It says so much right now. This show was about 9/11 but it could be about the pandemic. It could be a teacher that needs to write eulogies for students they may have lost, or a boss, or the head of a hospital. This show is also about how we come out of a tragedy and in a sense how to reopen. It’s about “are we getting back to normal? What is normal?”
The play is being co-produced and hosted by Schenectady Civic Players, how did this collaboration come about and how has it benefited the production?
After we lost our space in Saratoga, SCP reached out to us to rent the space. I didn’t think LAGS would go on. SCP really saved us by giving us this amazing opportunity. I will be forever grateful to SCP.
What’s next for Local Actors Guild of Saratoga?
We are planning on doing Our Town which was planned during the spring of 2020. Location TBD but we are happy to be back.
“The Guys” by Anne Nelson