BOSTON — Boston Marathon Bombing: The Play?
It sounds improbable, but “Finish Line: The Untold Stories of the 2013 Boston Marathon” opened recently with a simple mission: to tell the stories of bravery, resilience and recovery through the eyes of people who lived them.
The Boston Theater Company production draws from interviews with survivors, runners, doctors, first responders and others, with actors using verbatim transcripts to convey each person’s story on stage.
“Finish Line” will have a 17-day run of preview performances at the NonProfit Center to coincide with the third anniversary of the twin bombings that killed three people and injured more than 260. Its world premiere opening is scheduled for April 2017.
Unlike books about the attack or the Mark Wahlberg movie “Patriots Day,” now being filmed in Massachusetts, “Finish Line” does not attempt to re-create the bombings or portray the brothers responsible for the attack. Instead, the documentary play focuses on people who were touched by the violence and came out stronger.
The play’s co-creators, Joey Frangieh and Lisa Rafferty, said they wanted to produce something that focused not on the horror of April 15, 2013, but instead on the kindness shown that day and in the days that followed.
“It’s about the runners, it’s about the spectators, it’s about a city, a state, a country that chose to not allow an act of evil, an act of terrorism, an act of violence to define who we are,” said Frangieh, producing artistic director of the Boston Theater Company.
There’s Army Master Sgt. Bernard “Chris” Spielhagen II, an Iraq War veteran who had just finished running the 26.2-mile course when the first bomb exploded. He jumped in to help, working with two National Guardsmen to break a wooden bench to make a stretcher for a woman with severe leg injuries. Spielhagen wrapped her leg with a volunteer’s jacket, made a splint and stayed with her until an ambulance came.
And there’s Brad Jensen, a man who had just passed the finish line with his mother, who had run the last six miles with him for support. After the explosions, his father found him and his mother unhurt and they walked away together.
The play begins on the day of the bombings and ends at the marathon finish line a year later, following the resilience of survivors such as Lee Ann Yanni, a physical therapist who was at the 2013 marathon to cheer on two of her patients.