Thurman E. Scott
Artistic Director, Executive Producer and Founder

145 West 28th Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10001

A Message of Hope from the Children: A Response to 9/11

By Ashley R. Carr

Ten years sounds like a long time but the tragedy of what took place on 9/11/2001 remains a fresh memory in my mind. I'm sure everyone can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when the first tower got hit. Like many Americans, I was heartbroken and furious. I believed in God when I heard the stories of those I knew who, for some reason or another, were running late or not going into work at all that day; the ones who escaped death. However, as I sat in my classroom and watched the second tower get hit and bodies flying from the burning buildings, I doubted God's existence. When the towers collapsed, so did my faith in humanity and in any kind of God. It was the first time I ever remember feeling honest hatred.

I wrote poems and attended memorials but the fear and fury I felt did not subside. For the past ten years I have never been able to see the light in this situation. However, when Mr. Scott said, "It is important to know that this is a situation you'll all get through", the clouds in my mind that I thought were permanent began to perish. As he continued, he said, "God exists in all human beings". I silently asked, "how?", and he answered by saying we all have to power to do great things and the few individuals who carried out this horrific act chose to use their power to do destructive things. By emphasizing the God gives us the power to choose and not necessarily the power to choose all that is good, I started to understand my faith again. Furthermore, Mr. Scott said "do not be afraid of rage". I think it is the fear of being angry which prevents many people from truly feeling things. Similarly, as Mr. Scott said, "Sometimes one needs to have their rage in order to feel their compassion." In a sense, I felt like it's about giving yourself permission to let go by crying, screaming, punching a punching bag (personally) in order to move on. I suppose I've always thought "if I express my anger then I am an angry person". After listening to Mr. Scott, I feel it's actually more along the lines of "if I express my anger than I am a lighter person for not repressing that anger." There have been moments in my life where I've felt defeated and despite my strong mind and will, I can't seem to think there is a way out of the dark times. In regards to 9/11 or any devastating event, Mr. Scott made it simple by saying, "Everything that happens you have the possibility to overcome", which is a inspirational and motivational thought.

I had a big reaction when he said "Create something that you can give beyond yourself." I tried to think of how many people I know that live by that and couldn't come up with many. It reminds me of why I was put on this earth and why we were all put on this earth. It's a gigantic breath of fresh remembrance to hear that be said especially by someone who has done an incredible amount for everyone else. I started to think of how I could remind people that this world is much bigger than themselves, a point of view that seems to lessen by the day.

After Mr. Scotts introduction, the children were shown drawing pictures of the towers. There was one young boy, probably 7 years old, who had so much energy I instantly fell in love with him. He asked the woman next to him if she saw what happened and said how it was on every TV channel. His eyes grew bigger as he said the telephones weren't working either. He told her she should've gone down there but reminded her that she can't go down unless she's wearing a mask. It was apparent to me that this young boy had a lot of pride because he knew what was going on and was conversing with adults about it. I could see what Mr. Scott meant when he said to look at the light of the situation. By having the kids draw the towers, they were able to talk to each other and adults about what was going on in the world around them. In doing so, they were able to gain conversation skills and confidence in their own words. Amongst the drawings there was one that I found to be beautifully demonstrated from the mind of an artist. A young girl drew a picture of the towers and next to them she had firefighters that were about a third the height of the towers. In her eyes, they were that big because they were trying to save people and stop the fire. That evoked an ample amount of emotion from me because she's recognizing the heroes in the situation and not the terrorists.

Each child wrote words of hope and optimism. I felt that with each piece of writing, I learned a new way of thinking and looking at things. One little girl said, "Things are going to be better because we love one another." As Mr. Scott said, "Love is the most powerful vibration that exists." The children really responded to that and the fact that love is all you need. Another child said, "Love is so special that some people don't know what it means." I'm not sure if truer words have ever been spoken. By acknowledging that some people just don't understand love, you are giving the person the option to understand love. One of the other children wrote, "God loves everyone even if you're bad or good." I think that means God forgives as we all should. If you have forgiveness in your heart then you will achieve great love. The story that stood out the most to me was of the young boy who described his time "helping" God with things and making room for the stars that embody the souls of those past. His finish was the best when he said, "And then I come home and me and my parents go out to eat to celebrate my return." From the mind of a child, eating dinner with his parents is the first thing he'd want to do after helping God with the world. I'm sure that boy, who is probably now 18, will be a writer known all over the world soon enough.

The June 11th, 2011 section is definitely something I can relate to. I have been performing since I was a young girl and still get extreme nerves before every show, monologue, stand up routine, etc. I actually began studying the Alexander Technique while I was in Bali, Indonesia. Our first lesson was to stand in front of the group of twenty people we had and simply look each one in the eye and hold eye contact. By doing this, you become as present in the moment as you can possibly be. The energy changes to a whole new lightness. One of the women in the video had high nerves and Mr. Scott had to literally carry her on the stage as her face was redder than ketchup. She slowly uncrossed her arms and "opened up" as Mr. Scott put it. She said she felt very nervous and he explained that everyone in the audience was rooting for her and told her to feel the love they were sending. You can overcome your fear by using it to stand up straighter and speak out, as Mr. Scott said. I can remember my first audition I couldn't get my hands to stop shaking and in turn my voice was shaking. Other teachers instructed me to do various voice exercises to calm my nerves. However, it wasn't until my experience in Bali where I reached a new level of being present. Once I acknowledged the nerves instead of trying to ignore them, I was enlightened and could perform unlike any previous time. I hope that this program keeps going for a long time because it's clear that the kids aren't the only ones who learn something.



The Actors Theatre Workshop, Inc. | 145 West 28th Street, 3 Fl | New York, NY 10001