Swoosie Kurtz(Photo © Joseph Marzullo)
Swoosie Kurtz
(Photo © Joseph Marzullo)
Swoosie Kurtz and Dan Lauria will perform The Guys, Anne Nelson's two-hander about a journalist who helps an FDNY captain compose eulogies for his men lost in the World Trade Center tragedy, at the New-York Historical Society (N-YHS) on September 10 and 11 at 7pm to mark the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

"The Guys goes beyond theater," says Kurtz, who did a stint in the play opposite Tim Robbins during its original Off-Broadway run and who also recorded it with Bill Irwin for Random House Audio. "It's a very small way of paying tribute to the people who died on 9/11 and being part of the healing process." Dan Lauria, best known for his role on TV's The Wonder Years, has also performed The Guys Off-Broadway at the Flea Theater (with Peggy Lipton), at the Berkeley Rep in California, and with Anne Nelson in a benefit reading at the Seven Angels Theater in Waterbury, Connecticut.

"The play fills your heart," Kurtz continues. "I so identify with my character, Joan. At first, she's practically choking on her repression, but she finally has a breakthrough. She's so insular, so detached, and then Nick comes into her life. The play is very eloquent -- not in the sense of heightened speech but in a wonderfully ordinary way. Doing it at the Flea, less than two feet from the people in the front row, was amazing. It wasn't 'Let's pretend,' as it is with most plays. There were always some firemen in the audience, some widows and children, so you really felt a tremendous responsibility to get it right and to come through for them."

Kurtz reports that several of her friends were reluctant to attend The Guys at the Flea because they were afraid of what their emotional response might be, "But then they came and it was so cathartic. There's an alchemy that happens in the play; something beautiful is created out of catastrophe."

Admission to the New-York Historical Society performances of The Guys is $15. Seating is limited, partly because the society has reserved seats for honored guests from the FDNY and their families. Proceeds from the performances will go towards the N-YHS's History Responds project, which involves collection, conservation, and educational efforts in response to the events of 9/11/01.

To purchase tickets by credit card, phone 212-873-3400, ext. 269. Alternatively, checks may be mailed to the New-York Historical Society, Attention: Public Programs, 2 West 77th Street, New York, NY 10024.