On Sept. 10 and 11, readings of Sarah Tuft?s play 110 Stories were held at the Public Theater as benefit events for the Leary Firefighters Foundation.

Writer Tuft (also the Director and Producer) created this work as a response to September 11th. Immediately after that day, she sought out and recorded first-person accounts from survivors and recovery personnel. Tuft wove them into narrative form, and the result made for an extremely compelling evening of theater.

The impressive cast, all of whom graciously donated their time, included Susan Sarnandon, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Mary Stuart Masterson, Tonya Pinkins, Daniel Sunjata and James McCaffrey (both from television?s Rescue Me), and Edie Falco. Gothamist was disappointed to have missed seeing James Gandolfini on the 10th, but the cast we saw on the 11th was excellent, with standout performances including Sunjata as a NYFD ?probie? whose first day on the job is to be Sept. 12, 2001, and Masterson as a compassionate rescue dog handler who goes to Ground Zero, at first repulsed by the human remains in the enormous debris of shattered steel, but ultimately compelled to continue returning offer as much assistance as possible.

The stories are cleverly interwoven with overlapping dialogue, providing for interesting interaction between the actors. The enormity of the situation is completely presented. Nothing is trivialized here. It is to Tuft?s credit that the immediacy of the situation is realistically shown and your heart breaks all over again in the process.

Also adding a poignant moment was Tuft?s introduction at the end of various audience members who had provided the real-life stories. Several of the contributors were acknowledged and brought to the stage, where they were able to greet the actor that had read their role. In many cases, both actor and regular Joe were clearly moved, and it was fascinating to watch ? like an odd sort of family reunion by strangers, all coming together to share stories and memories.