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A 'Paper' Anniversary For 9/11

Dramatic reading of notes written in the wake of Sept. 11 unites the mundane and the profound.

Anyone who experienced the twin towers fall firsthand on Sept. 11 remembers the grey dust, the peculiar smell of burnt plastic, and for many in Brooklyn, the paper. Lots and lots of paper.

From Red Hook to Park Slope, singed Post-It notes, faded memos and invoices carried by the prevailing winds over the East River that day stood testament to a powerful act of destruction that still seems, even 10 years on, somewhat unreal.

So it seems appropriate that a multi-pronged production at the in Fort Greene should tackle the surreality of 9/11 through the medium of—you guessed it—paper.

Called , the offerings include an interactive exhibit, a concert of healing and a dramatic reading of the experiences of the volunteers who assembled at Chelsea Piers on the West Side of Manhattan in the days after the attacks.

In a reading of the play written and directed by Michael Simon Hall on Friday night, the stage at first appears empty, with unseen volunteers reading short notes aloud.

The messages are of the everyday mixed with unexpected bursts of emotional power. "Last name," "First name," and "Social Security number" mixed with "Ground Zero" and "Thank you for everything."

After a short pause, the actors walk on stage and the play begins.

Though the characters are archetypal, with names like Liz the Waitress, Marilyn the New Yorker and Bernard the First Responder—their attempt to process the full-scope of the disaster and its lingering effects have a haunting specificity and a subtle power to them.

For example, one character, Stephan the Intellectual, tries to give voice to a strange sense of elation shared by many after the attacks.

"I'm not a bad person... so how can I feel this way?" he says, pausing and then continuing: "The impossible has happened... So what else is possible? Maybe something good."

The Pieces of Paper Project's exhibit will be on display through Sunday, Sept. 11. A will be held at 4 p.m. on Sunday. Irondale Center is located at 85 S. Oxford St. between Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street.

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