As coronavirus cases mounted across the five boroughs last spring, THE CITY launched MISSING THEM — a collaborative effort to name every New Yorker lost to the pandemic and tell a story about them.
COVID-19 has killed more than 30,000 New Yorkers. Throughout this year, MISSING THEM has provided a space for people to mourn and celebrate the lives of their family members, neighbors and friends, publishing hundreds of obituaries and documenting more than 2,000 names.
The project has also produced in-depth local accountability journalism on the pandemic and the response to the crisis in city jails, nursing homes and Hart Island, the city’s potter’s field, where up to 1 in 10 New Yorkers who died will be buried.
Now, MISSING THEM is collaborating with the Working Theater, an award-winning off-Broadway theater company, to bring a living memorial to the virtual stage with “Missing Them,” a online theater event.
The play, which will debut on the one-year anniversary of MISSING THEM, expands on the collaborative journalism project, inviting audiences to go beyond the headlines and numbers to experience the human stories behind the pandemic.
“Missing Them” is adapted from stories and interviews conducted by journalists and writers at Columbia Journalism School, the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY, Boston College, THE CITY’s staff as well as independent volunteers.
The theater event is being adapted and developed by actor and writer Reza Salazar, and MISSING THEM’s project editor Anjali Tsui. Salazar is making his directorial debut with “Missing Them.”
A version of this production was part of a three-day virtual event THE CITY organized in December that brought together community partners, cultural institutions, poets, performers, mental health professionals and families of those lost to COVID-19. Nearly 750 gathered online to collectively mourn, connect New Yorkers and celebrate the fallen.
Prior to the performance, on Monday, April 26 at 6:30 p.m. ET, the Working Theater and THE CITY will offer a free tribute-writing workshop for those who have lost a loved one to COVID-19. The workshop, which will last two hours, will guide participants through a series of storytelling exercises to create personal tributes.