Entertainers step up in supports of USA

This letter from a Broadway cast member, written last week to friends in Los Angeles, was posted on the Internet.

Dear Friends,

I will keep it short as I am so tired, but I wanted to send a quick update.

At half hour tonight at our theater, our producers showed up to talk to us. Unfortunately, we had to post notice tonight on “Bat Boy.” We will close on Sunday.

Even more unfortunate is that we are not alone. Five other Broadway shows and several other off Broadway shows also gave notice today. More will follow in the next few days, even shows like “Phantom” and “Les Mis” are in danger as they are totally dependent on tourism. Almost every show in town has no advanced ticket sales as of this past Tuesday. We are all devastated.

The producers are calling for 70 percent salary cuts and five-show weeks to try to keep afloat. Some are trying to get the union to let us all close and then reopen later without paying people. All theater owners saved their rent from last week to try to help, but it wasn’t enough.

We are all hoping the union agrees to any or all of these things, as without them….. well.

In the workshop I am doing “Dirty Dancing.” There are actors from 10 other currently running shows participating. Every actor I spoke to today says their casts would rather work for a few hundred dollars a week and do less shows, helping the city get back on its feet, than close.

It will be too late for many shows even if the unions do agree but we are supporting our producers in any way we can. I ask all of you if you can take a moment to e-mail your friends and ask them to buy a theater ticket to ANY show in the next few days, not just “Bat Boy,” any show of their choice. It is a way we can all fight back against the terrorists. I refuse to accept that they can cripple this city and our beloved theater community.

“Bat Boy” producers don’t want to give up without a fight; they are trying everything in hope that some way we can make it and take down our notice on Sunday, keeping our doors open. We did better than many other shows this past week. “Rent” played to a house of 50 the other night and we had 140. Tonight we played to 160 people who were so happy to be there, and we were so proud to perform for them, even after our news.

I think people just don’t realize that the theater is in this much trouble. Please help us tell everyone. It breaks my heart that the city I was born in, the theater community I was raised in, is in such trouble, but we all have to fight back.

I miss you all. Pray for us, we are all frightened but I will not come back to LA because they have bombed my city and they have won. I will not, allow them to do this without a fight.

Thank you,

Love, Kaitlin Hopkins,

proud cast member of

“Bat Boy — The Musical”

By Robert Sarnoff

The terrifying stairways of The World Trade Center carried genderless, raceless, ageless, groups of people with but one goal: to defeat death and destruction, to live another day. Ashen-gray people held hands, all Americans for that moment… no color, no religion, a blinded chain, lost and frightened, searching their way out of the terror and darkness, each link needing the other…looking for a ray of light.

We are all Americans. Each of us has the opportunity to be an All-American. People, while biting their lips, with lumps in their throats and tears in their eyes, somehow manage a smile. Doors are held open. People hug and shake hands. Road rage has subsided.

Museums are opening their doors as sanctuaries for all to freely experience the greatness of the world’s art, music and creativity. To think, meditate, contemplate, to find some solace. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all houses of worship opened their doors, all day and night? Catholics might wish to visit a synagogue’s Saturday service, Jews might wish to attend a church’s Sunday Mass. All denominations hopefully might choose to organize a congregation in a park or other venue.

Let’s not need a smoky, black stairway to blind our differences. We were all the same that day.

We are all Americans.

Robert Sarnoff is a playwright in Belle Harbor, the Rockaways.

The devastating events of Sept. 11 have taken a terrible human toll and left an indelible mark on York City, Washington D.C., our nation and the world.

We wish to express our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives and our compassion for all those touched by this unspeakable tragedy.

We are inspired by the outstanding leadership of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Governor George Pataki, and we pay special tribute to the extraordinary heroism shown by our firefighters, police officers and rescue workers. Their courage will never be forgotten.

As cultural landmarks of this great City, our museums are living monuments to the triumphs and endurance of the human spirit. We offer sanctuaries of respite and contemplation that we hope can provide some comfort to the people of New York City during this very sad and difficult time. Many of our museums will be open free of charge to all visitors during this trying time.

As part of the cultural fabric of New York, we are committed to helping our great City as we face the challenges ahead.

— signed by directors of several museums around the city

By Susan Hartenstein

How strange it was, that Friday night.

We hadn’t performed since the Saturday before — before that incomprehensible day. None of us was in much of a mood. How could we be , amid the enormity of the tragedy?

It was particularly so in the Rockaways, this community that had lost so many. We all had friends. Or friends of friends. Or family.

Yet we had a responsibility — to professionalism and to those desperate for a breather, no matter how brief, from the oppressive pain.

We needed it, too, as an antidote to the insanity, a self-defense against the horror. And so we, the cast and crew of the Rockaway Theatre Company’s production of “Deathtrap,” went on that weekend and continued to perform this comedy thriller.

That weekend’s audiences were amazing. Not large, but appreciative. Different audiences, like individuals, have different characters. But all thanked us and we thanked them — for their courage, their refusal to declare defeat.

The Rockaway Artists Alliance, of which I am also a member, continues with its plans to hold ARTSPLASH 2001, a month-long multi-media, multi-cultural celebration of the arts and artists, to take place in Fort Tilden next month.

The soul seeks self-expression and solace through the arts. This is not a choice — it cannot be turned on and off at will. On the contrary — creativity and the participation in the fruits of that creativity are natural human acts. To try to stop this would be to render us less than human. The arts are a reflex, not a choice. Indeed, it is specifically in both the hardest and the most joyous times, both personal and public, that we need most to express our pain or our ecstasy.

All over our city and our nation we are gathering — in houses of religion, in theaters, in concert halls, stadiums, and more. In a time such as this, the arts are particularly important — as an expression, an outlet of emotions, as a triumphant cry that we are still alive and human.

Someone very close to me died several years ago. For a long time I didn’t care about any thing. I found it difficult to connect to anything.

One day I walked out of my house and saw the first of my tulips in bloom. I ran inside, grabbed my sketchbook and a pencil and drew that sweet blossom. I knew at that moment that I would be all right. I knew that life continued.

I was declaring this point of truth the best way I knew how — with an act of art.

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