Memories kept through theater: One year later
Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Updated: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 22:05
Everyone has a Sept. 11 story. For some, it is a story about waking up and realizing that our world was changed forever. For others, it is a story about personal loss. "Where were you?"
"I was underground in the subway."
Thus begins the story of Meron Langsner (GRAD) '04, a bystander of 9/11. In spite of his physical proximity, right underneath Ground Zero, Langsner's story is no different than ours. His story is the same as that of the student who watched the news from her dorm, who whispered "Oh my God" along with every other bystander - both those in New York and those throughout the country - as the first tower crumbled. Langsner's story is no different than that of the home-bound man who closed his eyes while the second tower fell, refusing to believe the tragedy, paralyzed with fear and plagued by a soul crying out for answers.
Like many of us, Langsner needed to tell his story. So, he told his story to people on the street, strangers who became his family within minutes. He told his story to his friends who called New York, frantic to hear of his safety. He told his story to the co-workers who returned to the financial district, distraught and dazed, a week after the attack. And now, he is telling his story to us.
When the one-act piece began, only two of the four rows of chairs in Shapiro Campus Center's atrium were full. By the end, there wa only standing room. The audience was not drawn in by elaborate costumes or flashy props. There was no music, no sound effects. The actors read from scripts. Yet, this reading captivated everyone, because it is our story too.
Perhaps not all of us were on the streets of Manhattan, two blocks down from the Financial District, when the towers of the World Trade Center collapsed. But, our minds are permanently scarred with images of destruction; our hearts are still overwhelmed when we remember the tragedy.
Perhaps not all of us knew anyone working in the towers. But we sensed their loss, and we mourned with their families. Perhaps we were not able to volunteer with a Red Cross crew or brew coffee for rescue workers. But, we did everything within our power, even when all we could do was pray for peace.
Langsner's story is effective because it is not a contrived piece that plays on the emotions of its audience. Langsner's story is true; still, he refuses to sensationalize his experience. A humble spokesperson for our campus and our nation, Langsner has recorded the collective experience of the American people.
His script is simple and effective, albeit sloppily edited at times. Momentary stutters plagued the readers. Sara Moon (GRAD) '04 and Noah Smith (GRAD) '04 transitioned beautifully from role to role. Yari Sigal's '04 reading of the narrator showed power and confidence. Each of the actors, however, could have been more familiar with the script.
It is important to remember that many voices were silenced before they could tell their stories. Langsner's piece is a tribute to those who died, a story that it seems could have been written by any one of us. We were all bystanders. We will never forget.