As you know, the timing of the Whatsonstage.com/Soho Theatre interactive play, officially launched with the publication of the opening scenes on this site on Tuesday 11 September, could not have been worse. Saddened and horrified by events in America, we were also sensitive to the fact that echoes of similar tragedy existed in our winning scenario, London Vanishes (working title).
Not wishing to upset or offend anyone, we contemplated calling off the project or restarting using a different storyline. However, we felt that the decision really should not be ours. By its very nature, the interactive play has been a collaboration all along - with the decisions made by you, the audience.
So, last week, we put the question to you - should we continue? In just a few days, over 500 of you logged on to register your opinion, with 60% voting that we should indeed carry on with the play that we'd already begun. Many of you also took the time to write in or post on the Whatsonstage.com discussion board with further thoughts. We have been deeply moved by the sentiments expressed - by New Yorkers, Americans, Britons and other theatregoers.
We are sharing excerpts from some of these messages below so that everyone may fully understand why we are taking the actions that we are taking.
To those who believed we should not continue, we'd like to assure you that we fully respect and sympathise with your point of view. However, we felt that it was our duty to accept the group decision. Some also suggested that we postpone the writing of the play and, while we also appreciate that desire, we are working to an exceedingly tight schedule that cannot be altered.
Please remember, where London Vanishes goes from here and how it ends is up to you. Some of you have already asked us to ensure that the resulting one-act play is a "life-affirming" work of art. We certainly aim to do so - but we need your help. Over the remaining weeks of the project, please do continue to read the instalments, send in your contributions and other thoughts, and vote on the direction the plot should take. (**You can vote on this week's plot suggestions by clicking here.)
And put the performance date in your diary now. The play will receive a professional rehearsed reading, directed by Jonathan Lloyd, at Soho Theatre on Monday, 12 November 2001 at 7.00pm (Box office: +44 020 7478 0100).
The completed work will be dedicated to those who lost their lives in the horrible attacks in New York and Washington. In addition, any profits from the performance will be donated to charities for the victims and their families and a collection will be organised at the theatre on the night.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.