This appears to be classic: A respected theater announces they will produce the play My Name Is Rachel Corrie, based on the writings of the young Seattle woman who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to protect the home of a Palestinian pharmacist and his family. A short time later, after protests by a small minority (it’s not clear by whom), the play is cancelled. (The Rachel’s Words initiative offers more complete information about Rachel and the play).
The Miami Herald reported yesterday:
But Mosaic’s board of directors agreed to drop the play after phone calls, e-mails and comments on a special Rachel Corrie blog — which has now been removed from the company’s website — made it clear that an impassioned, vocal minority strongly objected to the play…
Artistic director Richard Jay Simon, who declined a request for comment, wrote in a release Monday announcing the cancellation, “Exploring critical issues to inspire healthy dialogue is and always will continue to be our mission at Mosaic Theatre. I believe strongly in the piece and, while I respect the board’s decision, I am obviously disappointed.”
A more telling sentence in the release notes that “numerous conflicts have arisen, and the associated risks appear too great for our community and our angel sponsor, American Heritage School.”
The article goes on:
After Mosaic’s Simon, who is Jewish, announced he planned to present My Name Is Rachel Corrie, he posted an open letter on the company’s website, outlining his reasons for doing the play and soliciting comments on a blog.
Although the majority of the entries expressed support (some for the exercise of free speech and artistic freedom, if not for the play itself), others expressed outrage.
One woman suggested doing the play might mean the end of Mosaic. Another said she wouldn’t see My Name Is Rachel Corrie, any more than she would see a play titled My Name Yasser Arafat or one called My Name Osama bin Laden…
…Just after the local controversy began to heat up, Simon said that comments were running 85 percent for doing the play, 15 percent against, adding, “I’ve been astonished at the attacks on me as a Jew.”
At the Seattle Repertory Theatre, recent controversy over the play has led to more dialogue, not censorship. According to The Olympian:
“The Anti-Defamation League and several other groups have sponsored some ads in the program that call into question the validity of the play,” said director Braden Abraham of Seattle. “It’s unprecedented for a group to take out ads in our program condemning our material. That is unique.”
But the theater ran the ads, others were able to leaflet out front, and a group put up the website rachelcorriefacts to tell their version of events.
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