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The Critical Incident Players: Five Scenes from a Disaster

The Critical Incident Players is a group of John Jay students and alumnae who have come into being as a conjunction of various forms of Forum Theatre, which is a means of problem-solving through theatrical improvisation.

This year, as the nation is commemorating the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the Critical Incident Players will kick off their activities by addressing issues they are most qualified by virtue of their age group, as those who were children and teens during 9/11, the Virginia Tech Shootings, Hurricane Katrina, and the Haitian flooding, to address by constructing improvisations based on questions posed by professionals and scholars about how the citizenry, public administrators, and first responders interact under circumstances of crisis and the long-term impact of those responses.

The nature of the Critical Incident Players’ improvisations is to take the roles of various participants in Critical Incidents ranging from policy makers, first responders, journalists and victims and play out those characters’ behavior in structured scenarios. Through the process of improvisation and critical analysis the actors will play out the same scenarios again with different permutations of how the events play out, taking different approaches, exchanging roles, and taking audience suggestions to see what other decisions could have been made under the given circumstances.

As the raw materials for their first presentation of improvisations the Players will improvise five scenarios involving incidents experienced during the WTC events and address ethical and policy concerns described in Ned Benton’s “Ethical Challenges Inherent in Critical Incident Dynamics”