The Guys is based on a true story about how Nelson helped a grieving fire captain compose eulogies for four colleagues killed when the twin towers collapsed. It was first seen in New York at the Flea Theater in December 2001, starring Hollywood's Sigourney Weaver and Bill Murray, just a short distance from the scene of the attacks on 11 September. Since then, both Sarandon and Robbins, in addition to many other American celebrities, have taken turns on the New York stage, where discounted seats were reserved for emergency workers from Ground Zero. Robbins has recently reprised his role in The Guys with Helen Hunt at The Actors' Gang theatre in Los Angeles.
Tim Robbins has appeared on the big screen in film such as The Shawshank Redemption, Jacob's Ladder, Short Cuts (Golden Globe), The Player and Bull Durham (where he met Sarandon). As a writer/director, he is responsible for Bob Roberts, Dead Man Walking (which starred Sarandon) and Cradle Will Rock. For the stage, he has directed eight plays, co-written four and produced over 30 with his Los Angeles theatre group The Actors' Gang. The Actors' Gang production of Carnage, co-written and directed by Robbins, appeared at the Edinburgh International Festival in 1989.
Following early appearances in films such as 1975's cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Susan Sarandon won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1996 Dead Man Walking, adding to the four previous nominations for The Client, Lorenzo's Oil, Thelma and Louise and Atlantic City. On Broadway, Sarandon appeared in An Evening with Richard Nixon and received critical acclaim for her performances Off-Broadway in A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talkin and the thriller Extremities.
The Guys author Anne Nelson won the Livingston Award for international reporting and is currently director of the international program at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. She also covered the wars in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua as a reporter and a producer for the CBC and the BBC, including a Royal Television Society Award-winning documentary for the BBC's "Heart of the Matter." The Guys is her first play.
Jim Simpson, who commissioned The Guys, is the artistic director and founder of New York's Flea Theater. He has received two Obie awards for direction and will be directing the upcoming film version of The Guys starring Sigourney Weaver and Anthony LaPaglia. The film is due for US release this autumn.
- by Terri Paddock