Controversial play on Rachel Corrie comes to SLU

Editor Ellen Futterman

BY ELLEN FUTTERMAN

Got an interesting phone call from a local radio theater reviewer about the play, “My Name is Rachel Corrie,” which is being staged next weekend at St. Louis University by a new company in town called Blue Rose Theatre Collective. He had heard that the play might be anti-Semitic and wanted to alert me to this. I did some investigation and found a few published reports explaining that the play has unleashed controversy in other parts of the country, namely New York, where in 2006 the production at the New York Theatre Workshop was cancelled six weeks before it was scheduled to open. According to these reports, the New York producers feared political reprisals because of the subject matter.

Apparently, in 2003, 23-year-old American Rachel Corrie, a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement, was protesting the destruction of Palestinian homes. She had dropped to her knees in front of an Israeli bulldozer, which was supposedly clearing away foliage used to hide bombs. She expected it to stop, but it kept moving, trapping her under its tracks and crushing her to death. The protesters called it murder. The Israelis said that the driver of the bulldozer could not see Corrie because the windows of the bulletproof bulldozer were very small and visibility was limited.

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With the permission of the Corrie family, British actor Alan Rickman, who was in “Love, Actually” and the “Harry Potter” movies, and journalist Katharine Viner of the British newspaper the Guardian accessed Rachel Corrie’s diaries and emails and edited a huge volume of her written material into a 70-minute one-woman show titled “My Name is Rachel Corrie.”

The British production eventually made it to New York’s Off-Broadway Minetta Lane Theatre in October 2006. The play has since been cancelled in Toronto and South Florida, but has also been successfully produced throughout the U.S., and internationally in Israel, Greece, Argentina, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Australia.

I mentioned this production last night to my Israeli friend, Yael, who lives in Webster Groves and she got very excited about seeing it. She knew all about Rachel Corrie and felt that her death was tragic and needless. So we’re going to see the play together when it is performed here July 8-11th and 15th-18th, with Thursday – Saturday performances at 8 p.m., and Sunday performances at 7. All performances will take place at SLU’s black box theatre in Xavier Hall, 3733 West Pine Blvd. Tickets are $10 and can be reserved at [email protected] There will be refreshments and a moderated discussion after each performance.