Rose Mallare, cellist

Remembering 9.11

I was on tour with an international cast of De La Guarda.  Created in Argentina, cast and crew members from Argentina, Great Britain, New Zealand and USA performed together in “Villa Villa” in Centro Cultural Recoleta in the heart of Buenos Aires to theatre goers six nights a week.
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The out of town cast members where staying at the hotel up the street from the theatre.  Early one morning, I was woken up by a phone call and immediately got dressed.  I rushed over to a fellow cast member’s room and we turned on the tv.   We watched the news in complete horror as the second plane hit the Twin Towers.  We screamed and cried, trembling as we hugged each other cuz… for me that was the building that stood in the middle of my Lower East Side apartment window.  Its gone now.  And all the people, what’s happening to our home right now?  I’m so far away and this news channel didn’t seem real.  Oh dear God, please tell me this is just a movie.
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I tried calling friends and family from my hotel room back in USA all afternoon.  I just called every person on my phone to see who would pick up, but not many did.  I’d asked my sisters, who lived in Florida & California, if they could call and help me locate our friends in NYC, since none of us in Argentina were having much success getting through by phone or internet.
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The show went on in Recoleta that night.
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Everyone who lived on this earth has a connection with NYC, whether they called it home or not;  hates it or not.  NYC is the hub of earth, at least in my opinion.  It was my home at the time and I was watching it get destroyed on live television.
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In times of catastrophe, it doesn’t matter where you were from.  You clutch on to the arm of someone near.  The entire world was feeling loss.  Being a touring artist and on the road, you look forward to finishing a successful run of your show, board your flight and go home one day.  But what if my home is gone before tomorrow?  My apartment building was only a mile away from the Twin Towers.  I could walk there.
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The show went on that night.
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Each actor’s performance tracks were read, harnesses where checked by the climbers and the cast’s namio prayer had its rich tone.  “Papel” began our show and flying in a harness above the clouds and paper was the safest place I could be.  My body and my psyche needed to be suspended in time.  The Papal music was serene and soothing.
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In my favorite act of the show, the paper brakes, and out of nowhere my trusted Argentine comrade and I run the tarponed wall with extreme speed in the act called “Marcana!” named after the pieces birthplace, the Marcana Stadium in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.  This act is about defying gravity, velocity, sometimes rage, sometimes power…but most of all:  extreme frolicking and fun!  Again, the beauty of this show’s creation lets out all the emotions a performer feels when they need to feel it.  I might have vocalized my heightened passions in my best Spanish jibberish that night.  This show was perfect for a performer like me, every performance always satisfied a need.
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During “Fiesta China”, an extended scene where the cast is encouraged to display raw and sometimes rowdy emotions, I vividly remember watching Abby Freeman in the audience.  A celebrated performer in many productions, she decided to sit out of the show that night, and take in De La Guarda as a patron.  Not in any costume and dressed in plain clothes, Abby was “found” by our Fabito and hoisted up above the audience heads as they took flight around the room.  There was a moment where she “let go” and let her arms sway above and behind her.   They circled the room three times with her long locks flowing behind them as they flew.   I wanted that flight to last forever for them, because it took away the sadness and loss I was feeling for my town back home.  For just a few seconds, myself and the entire audience cheered blissfully for that one New Yorker on the other side of the hemisphere.  She stole the show that night with a simple flight.  No small roles.  She wasn’t acting, she was being.  Abby had that kind of charm, and that one flight gave me hope on one of the darkest days in American history.
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The show went on that night.  We had a standing ovation that night.  Honestly, we always have a standing ovation, because there are no seats.
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Immersive theater can have a profound effect if you let the moment take you.  Its really up to an audience member to decide how they will absorb the next few hours for themselves and if they are willing to go on a journey.  A show like De La Guarda just had that kind of magic where reality suspends time.  Moments like Abby’s flight have become fused in my brain forever because the art was relevant for the place and time, and mirrored exactly what I wanted to feel.  I needed something fleeting.  I felt like I could breathe again while watching my dear friends take flight. That was surely the best “Fiesta China” flight I’d seen anyone take in the history of the show. It was everything I needed to see and feel to make sense of this crazy world, and that’s what art can do.
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Thankfully, it only took a few days to hear from our loved ones. For those that weren’t so lucky, those that did not hear back from loved ones, I still pray for their comfort everyday.  Its not fair what happened to those people who lost their life or a loved one that day.
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We completed the run of our show in Argentina.  Abby and I where able to fly back to the states after a months time.
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When we landed into the JFK airport, our city looked different, smelled different and there was void in the skyline.   There was so much dust in the air and on the ground.  The dust and our friends nerves hadn’t settled yet.  You could smell the dust and ashes for some time.   It also stung my eyes a little bit whenever I walked outside my apartment.
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Over time, NYC rebuilt itself a new normal, because it had to.  That’s what survivors do:  they get up again.  Many beautiful memorials have been resurrected in honor of the brave heroes all over NYC, especially downtown.  New Yorkers have collaborated together to celebrate the courageous heroes.  Even other countries have gifted monuments, and are showcased in neighboring states.  Everyday and every hour, the city honors the legacy its first responders, family and friends who lost their lives on that fateful day.   We have not forgotten about you and we miss you.
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Also, resilience exists.  New Yorkers remind me that artistic and creative minds can still thrive in our mad and modern environment.  Just look at NYC now, its just as beautiful as ever, the Big Apple will continue glisten, thrive and survive.  I, too, will always remember.
❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
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AGUANTE NYC!!! I FRICKEN LOOOOOVE YOU SO MUCH!!!
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NYC from the Aft
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