This paper explores the performances and plays that were produced in reaction to the September 2001 terrorist attacks in relation to classical and contemporary theories on tragedy. This includes an overview of the immediate response to the attacks by the theatre community in New York and the nation as a whole along with the thoughts of contemporary scholars who tend to view tragedy as being intangible and impossible to define. In comparison to the contemporary scholars, Kenneth Burke and Francis Ferguson’s scholarship on the tragic rhythm attempts to define the different parts of tragedy. Burke and Ferguson’s work and the thoughts of contemporary scholars are used to analyze some of the plays written in response to 9/11 including Anne Nelson’s The Guys, Craig Wright’s Recent Tragic Events, and Richard Montoya’s Anthems: Culture Clash in the District. The paper concludes by reflecting on how these plays related to their audiences when they were first performed.

First Advisor

Sara Freeman

Date of Completion

Spring 2012

Degree Type



Theatre Arts