Donna Kaz writes nonfiction, plays, screenplays, poetry and book/lyrics for musicals. Her work has been seen at Harlem Stage, the New York Musical Theatre Festival, Theatre at St. Clements, Northeast Theatre Ensemble, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. She is the author of the plays Performing Tribute, 9/11; JOAN; The Wanderer; Waiting and the musical FOOD, the musical. She has been published in The Sun, Lilith, Turning Wheel, Step Away Magazine, Trivia: Voices of Feminism, Western Press Books, Mason’s Road and Hawai’i Review (Ian MacMillian Award). A 2013 Pushcart Prize nominee, Kaz is also the recipient of residency fellowships from Yaddo, Djerassi, The Blue Mountain Center, CAP21, Wurlitzer, Mesa Refuge and The Ucross Foundation. Her nonfiction essays have appeared in The Dramatist, Ful Art magazine, Girl Drive Blog, Gender Across Borders and the Women’s Studies Quarterly. Her screenplay, King Me, recently won a Boundary Stone Screenwriting Award. Kaz has been a featured reader at the Pulse Poetry Slam, Carpo, Uncle Mo’s and Wordstock. She has received a Jason Miller Award for excellence in directing, a New York State Council on the Arts grant and two grants from the Manhattan Community Arts Fund. In 2014 she received an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant to support the completion of her memoir, UN/MASKED: Memoirs of a Guerrilla Girl On Tour, published by Skyhorse in November 2016. MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. Member of ASCAP. @donnakaz
The Story of Performing Tribute:
I lived in Battery Park City for 6 years. In November of 2000I moved to the Upper East Side. I was very sad to leave Battery Park because I loved living there. The towers were right outside my window and I walked through them every day. The WTC was always alive with people, concerts, the farmers market, etc. from Monday to Friday. On the weekends it seemed that I had the entire mall in the WTC concourse to myself.
September 11, 2001 was a terrible and tragic day for the world. It seemed that everyone in New York City went into shock. On September 12th I found out that my cousin, who worked in the North Tower, had been killed. My husband had a close colleague who had been at the conference at Windows On The World that day and he, too, was gone. You couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing the towers collapse over and over and over. For days and days after 9/11 I woke up and was paralyzed. I was a playwright but I couldn’t write a thing. I wanted to do something but felt helpless. So I walked the streets of Manhattan. On September 17th I walked all the way down to the WTC site because I still could not believe it was gone.
The first year anniversary was very difficult. On the second and third anniversaries I left town. In September of 2005 I read about the Tribute Center volunteer training program in the New York Times. All Tribute volunteers are connected to September 11th in some way and lead tours of the WTC site by telling their own stories. It was time for me to get rid of the feeling of being helpless against the tragedy. I volunteered and began leading tours that November.
I met many others with 9/11 stories to tell and those stories inspired me to create Performing Tribute. I wanted to create a theatre piece that made it possible for more people to hear the voices of this incredible community of people who speak from their hearts about what happened to them on that day. I have learned that loss and suffering are not healed by silence and ignorance and that everyone has a story. I hope that as you listen to Performing Tribute you will be inspired to tell yours. – Donna Kaz