If Dr. Charles Wall, a professor at Bakersfield Community College was prophetic, he might have foreseen the enormous implications of his remarkable concept of performing Random Acts of Senseless Kindness. A teacher of Human Relations students at the California school, he was disheartened to hear about random acts of senseless violence, so he assigned his class to perform an act of kindness and write about the results.
the class protested but did as they were told and the results were nothing short of amazing. What Dr. Wall, who is blind, started in September 1993, has inspired people around the world to be kinder and nicer. There is even a week in February dedicated to performing these good deeds. The NBC TV morning Today Show recently racked up a million recorded incidents of generous deeds.
When examining this concept, perhaps one of the most extraordinary examples of kindness took pace in our neighboring Canada, in a small community named Gander, Newfoundland, when on tuesday, September 11, 2001, the world changed dramatically and irrevocably.
On that morning of devastation when the U.S.A. was attacked, 38 airplanes were diverted and forced to land at Gander as airspe]ace was closed. Almost 7000 passengers and crew had no idea what was happening. Neither, initially, did the people in the tiny Canadian community. Soon food, clothing, toothbrushes, blankets, dog food and diapers were being collected. The people of Gander opened their hearts and their homes to strangers and in five days life long friendships were established. Here was humanity at its best, forced under extreme emergency circumstances, a five day wonder, by a volunteer army of Good Samaritans.
To share this inspiring story with the world, playwrights and composers Irene Sankoff and David Hein conducted hundreds of interviews at the tenth anniversary of Gander's gigantic Random Act of Kindness and the result is the remarkable musical "Come From Away" at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 West 45th Street, New York City. For tickets ($47-167), call Telecharge at 212-239-6200 or online at www.telecharge.com. Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and8 p.m., Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m
Come meet Claude (Joel Hatch), Gender's industrious mayor, Bonnie (Petrina Bromley) whose main concerns are the animals on the plane, Kevin T. (Chad Kimball) and Kevin J. (Caesar Samoyos) who are afraid their gay relationship will be a problem, Hannah (Q. Smith) who is worried her fireman son is in trouble in New York City, Diane (Sharon Wheatley) and Nick (Lee MacDougale) who discover love in the chaos and Beverly (Jenn colleen) who is the first female pilot to captain an American Airlines plane, this one a Paris to Dallas flight. The twelve acts play both the thousands of roles, from passengers to the people of Gander, including Geno Carr, Rodney Hicks, Kendra Kassebaum and Astrid Van Wieren.
With music that resonates with spirit, like "Welcome to the Rock," "Me and the Sky" and "Stop the World" and a dozen others, the show flies on wings of fear that morph into hope and promise. This is theater at its remarkable and restorative best. Christopher Ashley directs this wonderful tribute to cooperation with spirit.
Merci, our good neighbor Canada. Happy 150th Birthday. Long may we celebrate our friendship.