AU Press Releases

Alfred University project to forge ‘Link’ of significance to 9/11 attack for students

A community-based art project at Alfred University entitled "LINKED, Our Connection Over Time," will explore how today’s students can feel connected to the decade-old 9/11 attacks as direct memories of that tragic event wane with each generation entering college.

Students and others in the University community will symbolically illustrate their connection to the tragedy through an exercise of hanging varying lengths of small linked chains on a replica of the twin towers the week before Sept. 11. The "twin towers" will be moved daily to different locations on campus. The number of links for each chain chosen will depend on the degrees of separation between the individual and a victim of the attacks. The project will culminate with a public reading of "9/10," a play written by Richard Willet, on the evening of Sept. 10.

The activities are a collaborative project between Alfred University’s Drawn to Diversity (D2D) program, coordinated by Dan Napolitano, AU director of student affairs, and the Division of Performing Arts Theater Department, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, chaired by Stephen Crosby.

D2D frequently uses art therapy to allow communities to acknowledge tragedy, triumph, or other current events while the Theater Department is dedicated to its role of serving as a direct reflection of society, responding to the human condition through performance.

"An important role theater plays in any society is how it responds to life around us," said Crosby. "What makes it really powerful is when it strikes a universal chord with something particularly profound. Such is the case with this play presented at this time. When you can expand the impact of a play beyond the theatre walls, such as with this collaboration with D2D, it becomes all that much more meaningful."

"When we created a 9/11 memorial last year, using school desks and composition books, the students were asked to write down their thoughts from Sept. 11, 2001," said Napolitano. "It struck me how young these students were, even though their memories were powerful," he added. But it also "dawned on me members of this next generation will soon be too young to truly remember the day. Our project attempts to connect that day to those who may be too young to (really) remember."

During the week preceding the 10th anniversary of the tragedy, students and community members will hang their linked chains on two stark black pillars that represent the fallen towers and write the names of the victims they are most linked to on one of the walls. The art project and the downward hanging chains will represent the links that transcend from one generation to the next.

At the end of the week, performed the night before the anniversary date of the Sept. 11 attacks, there will be a public reading of Willett’s play "9/10," presented by the Division of Performing Arts Theater Department. Performers will be drawn from the AU student body and the community, demonstrating the unity we all share as we reflect on this somber event that so strongly impacted our nation and the world.

"Developed from a play-writing workshop Willet taught at Alfred University in 2003, America had just gone to war with Iraq. He drew upon some of his experiences, particularly one of the characters in the play, while in Alfred, in his writing of the play," said Crosby. "9/10" interweaves four stories, each set in the World Trade Center on the night before Sept. 11, 2001."

A reception and talk-back session with NYC director and AU alumna Eliza Beckwith, AU class of 1978, who will co-direct with Professor Steve Crosby and his Directing I class, will be held after the free performance, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 10 at 8 p.m. in CD Smith III Theatre, Miller Performing Arts Center.