Broadway's "Come From Away" Shares a Small Town's Generousity on 9/11
For our Broadway week, Steve Adubato goes one-on-one with the husband and wife team - Irene Sankoff and David Hein – who talk about their new Broadway hit, "Come From Away." The show, up for 7 Tony awards, tells the story of how Canadians from a small town in Newfoundland opened their hearts and hearths to airline passengers stranded following 9/11.
"Somewhere in the middle of nowhere. In the middle of who knows where (who knows where) you'll find? Something in the middle of nowhere. In the middle of clear blue air, you've found your heart, and left a part of you behind. [applause] That looks very interesting. And that's from Come From Away, and Irene Sankoff and David Hein, they put this husband and wife team... you put this whole thing together. This is a play over at the Schoenfeld Theater on 45th Street. The premise of this play is extraordinary. Describe it. It tells the true story of when 38 planes and thousands of people were diverted to this little town in Newfoundland on the northeast corner of the continent after 9/11 when the US airspace was closed and the people there opened their hearts and homes. They invited them off the planes. They then brought them into their halls, their schools, they they brought them back to their houses. They let them have showers. They washed their clothes. They fed them for five days. They gave them everything and they made these lifelong friendships. People changed their lives there. How is it that we didn't know about this? I think, justifiably so, I mean, we lived in New York on September 11th. Our focus was elsewhere and it just took a while for the story to come out to the surface because the people who did this, they weren't looking for any type of thanks. They'll say right to you, "Thank you is good on the way out. That's more than enough." And they're happy now that they're getting recognition, but at the same time they're like, "We don't need it. We would have done it without it." Clearly. 15 years later, they're getting recognition for it. Okay, so the people in Newfoundland...? Yes. Newfinland... Newfoundland. Newfoundland, excuse me. That's okay. So, they're there? Right. These planes are coming in? Mm hmm. People are... they don't know these people? Yeah. No. And how do they connect with these people? Newfoundland is based on this culture of welcoming people in. So it's this rock in the ocean. They have these terrible Winters and they support each other. You know, that's the way they stay warm is by coming together as a community. If a stranger shows up at your door, you've got to welcome them in, because you're going to be in the same situation the next day. They just brought them in and they just helped them unconditionally. We saw the same thing when we went out there in 2011, on the 10th anniversary..."