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Five years later

Capital Repertory Theatre will commemorate the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., with a reading of a play written by veteran journalist Anne Nelson titled The Guys, followed by a reception.

Nelson wrote the play because she said she felt the experience of collaborating with a fire department captain in an effort to craft eulogies for services of fallen firefighters was too personal to be expressed in newsprint. "The Guys" debuted at the 80-seat Flea Theater three months after the attacks. The theater is just seven blocks from Ground Zero.

The destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center had a serious impact on the Flea Theater, described as one of New York's leading off-off-Broadway repertory companies.

Before the terrorists struck, the theater hosted a repertoire of five plays, two dance presentations and a concert; after the terrorist attack, all activity at the theater ceased. When the theater reopened almost three weeks later, attendance dropped from 90 percent to 5 percent of capacity.

Dust and ash continued to hang in the air for weeks around Ground Zero, and theater owners said audiences were unable or unwilling to venture into the area.

They hoped the initial production of "The Guys" would help generate foot traffic and drop-in business in the lower Manhattan area, and they were not disappointed. At most performances, every seat was occupied.

Free admission was granted to firefighters and their families.

The play centers on a fire department captain, Nick, and a writer, Joan, and their experience during an afternoon recalling the virtues and foibles of fallen firefighters, in order to fashion stories of their lives into fitting eulogies.

"In that one afternoon, Nick and Joan discover the possibilities of friendship in each other and their shared love for the unconquerable spirit of the city, drawing on humor, tango and the enduring bonds of common humanity," said Capital Rep spokeswoman Nancy Laribee.

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