New play inspired by apartment ad placed Sept 10, 2001

Allen’s Lane Theater presents “WTC View”, a Philadelphia premiere marking the play’s first performance outside of New York City. The play about the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy first premiered in 2003 at the New York Fringe Festival and later was turned in a movie.

Director T. Patrick Ryan was drawn to the script for years before he was able to bring it to the theater in the Allens Lane Arts Center in Mt. Airy.

“New York is my favorite city in the country,” he says, feeling a personal connection to the play’s events. In fact, Ryan himself was booked on a flight out of Boston’s Logan Airport, where the flights which hit the World Trade Center originated, on that very morning. On reading Brian Sloan’s script, he knew he wanted to bring it to the stage in Philadelphia.

The ad

“WTC View” is inspired by life in the SoHo apartment where Sloan witnessed the 2001 attacks firsthand. Having placed an ad in the Village Voice on September 10th seeking a roommate for an apartment with a view of the World Trade Center, Sloan was surprised to receive a stream of locals desperate for a place to stay in the following weeks, each of whom were grappling with the disaster in different ways.

The stories of those who were displaced

As Ryan notes, the play is not about the events of September 11th, and a view of the smoking towers is conspicuously absent from the production. Rather, the events are a “catalyst” for the wide range of human stories that follow. By adapting his own real-life experiences, as well as those of his prospective roommates, in the weeks following the attacks, Sloan builds a complex and moving portrait of people struggling to regain their balance in the aftermath of tragedy.

From a foreign hotel concierge displaced by stranded guests to a survivor from Tower One, each visit becomes an unusual heart-to-heart between strangers. The real-life ups and downs of finding a New York roommate become a poignant metaphor for the search for stability in terrifying times. “It’s a very character-driven play,” Ryan says. “These people have been literally displaced out of their lives, and they’re all trying to regain a sense of the normalcy they’ve lost.”

Finding a theater to tell this story

In his efforts to bring the play to Philadelphia, Ryan pitched the production to several area theaters, but to his surprise, it was difficult to find a local home from the play. “Some theaters said no, it’s too soon,” he remembers, while others said it had been too long – 9/11 was “not relevant anymore”, and audiences wouldn’t care about the show. Fortunately, Allens Lane rose to the challenge, and “WTC View” marks the 20th show that Ryan has directed.

Allens Lane Theater presents “WTC View” on Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 6pm through March 26th. Tickets are $18 and audiences are invited to bring their own picnic dinners and beverages to enjoy prior to show-time in the theater’s cabaret seating. For more information or to get tickets, call 215-248-0546, or visit http://www.allenslane.org/.

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