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This article was prepared for the

September 26, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights


Between the Lines

In the dark days of World War II, Winston Churchill was

reportedly advised by one of his advisers to shut down all the

theaters, concert halls, and art galleries in London in order to save

money for the war effort. "Good God, man," the English prime minister

supposedly replied. "What the hell are we fighting for?"

In the days following the September 11 terrorist attacks, we at U.S. 1

continue with our coverage of the arts — the anecdote above is

plucked from a Simon Saltzman column that begins on page 26 of this

issue. But we also note some telling changes in our routines. Business

phone conversations, for example, may begin a little differently. Many

callers now replace the brisk "How are you" greeting with an

acknowledgement that sorrow may have touched the person at the other

end of the line. For the question, "Did anyone in your office lose

someone close?" the answer has been, all too frequently, "Yes."

One in every five people in New Jersey, according to a Gannett New

Jersey poll, has a relative or close friend who was a victim of the

terrorist attacks, and at least one third of New Jersey residents knew

someone who was killed, injured, or missing. The psychology experts

say it is part of the healing process to talk about our grief, yet we

are all searching for words.

Sometimes the right words come from the very young. At one of last

week’s funerals, a minister told about a little boy in Sunday school

who had the idea that in the aftermath of the tragedy everybody should

pray for God. The teacher gently suggested that he pray to God,

not for God. But the preschooler insisted, saying, "God is very

sad. We need to pray for him. We need to give him hugs."

In last week’s issue, producer/philanthropist Roger Berlind shared his

thoughts on how the loss of life would affect us in times to come,

saying, "it forces you to focus on what is really important, which is

family — and doing what you love." Theater, Berlind and others

believe, can play an important role in helping us find meanings.

U.S. 1’s drama critic Simon Saltzman underlines this in his essay on

page 26: "The theater and its makers have continued to meet the

challenge through the ages, giving people hope, joy, insight,

information, inspiration, and diversion. As a community, theater and

its makers have always responded through tragedies, wars, and economic

woes. It has always met the challenge with brave and sustaining words

as surely as have the fighters with their weapons."

In trying to come to terms with the tragedy, Saltzman offers a litany

of quotations:

Where can I go to get the truth? "We allow an ignorance to

prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in

patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders."

(Maya Angelou)

Is God listening to us or to them? "God does not seek to

destroy the evil nations, but their evil. The sword conquered for

a while, but the spirit conquers forever." (Sholem Asch)

"Where does one go from a world of insanity? Somewhere on

the other side of despair." (T.S. Eliot)

Drama, poetry, visual art, music — many would say that the arts offer

the only possible solace. Alone among the art objects at the World

Trade Center, a bronze figure sculpture created by Princeton sculptor

J. Seward Johnson has survived the tragedy. The piece depicts a

businessman looking into his briefcase. The title: "Double Check." It

has become a metaphor and a monument.

The role that the Twin Towers played as a New York monument was the

subject of Angus Kress Gillespie’s "Twin Towers: the Life of New York

City’s World Trade Center," published by Rutgers University Press.

U.S. 1 contributor Richard J. Skelly helped do the research for this

book, and an excerpt was printed here last week, September 19. On

September 24 the New York Times published Richard Bernstein’s

comparison between Gillespie’s book and Eric Darton’s "Divided We

Stand: a Biography of the World Trade Center." Bernstein generally

favors the Gillespie account, but says that both "give us a sense of

the historical richness and complexity of what we have lost."

This issue of U.S. 1 is being distributed on the eve of Yom Kippur.

Those observing this Jewish Day of Atonement are asked to forgive

those who have done evil to them, a difficult task at any time,

especially now.

Top Of Page

"At the end of the longest week of the year, I go to the theater.

There, at a performance of `Romeo and Juliet’ at McCarter Theater, I

suddenly have a clearer vision of where to seek insight. It would not

be from the media, but from the greatest writers of dramatic

literature. "When sorrows come, they come not as single spies, but

in battalions." (William Shakespeare).

Our mourning for those who became victims of the "Attack on

America" is felt around the world. "The tears of the world are

a constant quality. For each one who begins to weep, somewhere else

another stops. The same is true of the laugh." (Samuel

Beckett )

Top Of Page

"Good God, man," the English prime minister

is said to have replied. "What the hell are we fighting for?"

"I encourage everyone to continue in their art. Some people seem to

fear that to do so is trivial, misguided, escapist or offensive within

the present context. I assure you that it is not. The practice of

making theater this week has been a tenacious, reaffirming effort.

Watching theater last night was a heartening, precious experience." As

always, I am guided and supported by the words of dramatists.

— Simon Saltzman

We continue to look to the old and the new plays and playwrights for

emotional and intellectual support."

, the way in which they were first loved by critics and then hated by

them, even as the buildings won acceptance by ordinary people."

I pray for the firemen and their families. "Until the day

of his death, no man can be sure of his courage." (Jean

Anouilh )

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