Sunday, May 19

‘OCTOBER 7’ play tells traumatic story of terror attack on Israel through verbatim accounts of survivors

A new play tells the heartbreaking story of the October 7 terror attacks against Israel through verbatim accounts of survivors, with an effort to keep the horrific day at the forefront. 

Irish journalists Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney traveled to Israel in the immediate aftermath of the attacks to speak with the wounded, heroic rescue workers, mothers wondering if their family had survived, and a police officer who killed several Hamas terrorists. Their first-hand accounts were turned into “OCTOBER 7,” a limited-run play that opens Monday in New York City. 

“We watched people describe the worst day of their lives, and their resilience, strength, courage, and hope are what you end up walking away with,” McElhinney told Fox News Digital

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McAleer and McElhinney noticed the day after Hamas’ terror attack that people across the globe were calling for Israel to stand down – a sign that the brutal invasion would be quickly forgotten. 

“There would be no October 8, there would be no war in Gaza, without October 7. We wanted people to realize and not forget what happened,” McAleer said.

McAleer and McElhinney then spent three weeks traveling Israel, speaking with people who were impacted by the attacks. They found the 13 most compelling witnesses and turned their words into a play.

“We had done verbatim theater before, and it’s a very unique vehicle for telling a story in a way that’s very compelling for audiences,” McElhinney said, noting that the play is 100% the words of the witnesses they spoke with.

McElhinney noted the timing of the play’s opening coincides with anti-Israel protests plaguing college campuses across America. 

“Even though we’re trying to bury October 7, the Israel story is not going away, the war is not going away. The controversy is not going away,” McAleer said. 

“But it’s a one-sided controversy. Everyone’s talking about Palestine and Gaza, but no one’s talking about Israel on October 7,” he continued as McElhinney added, “No one’s talking about the hostages.” 

“There are American hostages,” she said.

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McAleer and McElhinney believe anti-Israel protesters could learn a valuable lesson from the play.

“Anyone who comes out of the play is affected. People were in tears,” McAleer said. “It makes them more resilient.”

McAleer and McElhinney hope “OCTOBER 7” shows leaders from other areas of entertainment and arts that it’s OK to speak out on behalf of Israel. They are disgusted that Hollywood has not taken a bigger stance, but silence from the music industry really irks them.

“They attacked a music festival… the music industry has been shamefully quiet about this,” McAleer told Fox News Digital. 

“They’ve been shamefully pro-Hamas, the group that attacked party goers, music lovers, peace lovers,” he continued, before correcting himself. “They weren’t attacked, they were hunted down and slaughtered. Massacred, because they were Jewish.” 

McElhinney said, “There is a long history of people changing their minds about issues based on pieces of powerful art,” and feels the play could be critical for college protesters to experience. 

They hope the play eventually lands on Broadway, and that local companies put it on throughout the nation. In the meantime, they’re putting those words into action, with plans to take the play on tour of Ivy Leagues colleges in the fall — starting with Harvard, Princeton, Yale, MIT, Columbia and Penn, where antisemitism has been rampant. 

McAleer and McElhinney, whose Unreported Story Society relies on donations as a 501(c)(3), are hopeful that the anti-Israel agitators stay far from the historic Actors Temple Theater, where the play runs through June 16 — but they’re not taking any chances. 

“It’s the only play in New York that is opening under police protection, which is a terrible thing to say in 2024… but that shows you how important these stories are,” McAleer said, noting that security was a big expense for the production. 

“There is a lot of anger around, there’s a lot of toxicity around,” he added. “They’re always looking for targets.” 

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The Unreported Story Society has “a mission to tell the stories that the mainstream media ignores through art and modern media,” according to its website. 

Attorney and author Mark Paoletta, a board member, said McAleer and McElhinney, along with director Geoffrey Cantor, “have created a tour de force of a play.”

“Compelling, heartbreaking, and yet inspiring. With intense immediacy, the play brings the audience back to that horrific day and shows the resiliency and humanity of the Israeli people and aims to make sure that Hamas’ barbaric attack is never forgotten,” Paoletta told Fox News Digital. 

Tickets can be purchased at October7ThePlay.com

Fox News Digital’s Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.

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