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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
New York City's Stuyvesant High School stands within sight of the World Trade Center, and on September 11, 2001, it quickly became the concern of many Americans and world citizens. As a window into this school's experiences surrounding that tragic day, a group of creative acting students from Stuyvesant have assembled this stunning collection of monologues -- originally performed on stage, now in print form -- to unite the memories and emotions of its students and employees.
Under the direction of English teacher Annie Thoms, who provided the helpful introduction to this book, the student members of the Stuyvesant Theater Company began this project about 9/11, "in which Stuyvesant students were able to tell their own stories, and the stories of others in our community." The actors talked with fellow students, teachers, assistant principals, dining hall workers, and custodians, taking careful note of each person's physical mannerisms and verbal patterns. After all the pieces were assembled and a stage was created, the actors performed "with their eyes" in February 2002 -- each student played the person he or she had interviewed, surmounting differences in age, ethnicity, or gender -- to audiences who responded with standing ovations. This book, then, is the series of monologues the students performed, along with photos from the production, a foreword from actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith, a chronology of Stuyvesant High School events on 9/11, and extra notes on the production and staging.
Both moving and engrossing, With Their Eyes will touch all readers looking to connect with their own memories about 9/11 or seeking realistic insight into the minds of students who experienced that day firsthand. Young readers will be motivated to document their own stories or feelings about September 11th, while parents and teachers can launch meaningful discussions at home, at book groups, or in the classroom. A powerful work that steers clear of "being cheesy or maudlin," this impressive work captures voices that teach and inspire. Matt Warner