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Buzz, 3-22: Shirking and Ducking
Censorship at New York Theater Workshop; "Rachel's Words" Tonight
at Riverside Church
"The... essence of
theater is to communicate about lives, either lives that have ended
or lives that are still alive.... (Rachel Corrie) was an extraordinary
young girl. She didn't take sides.... It's not about taking sides,
it's about defending human life.... To cancel a play -- and it wasn't
really a play, to cancel a voice, because it was her voice -- is
an act of such catastrophic cowardice, because we're living in times
when people are quite fearful enough about speaking out.... People
in the theater and film, television, dance, music, we have to do
what we must do."
-- Vanessa Redgrave,
speaking on Democracy
Now, March 22.
"We have got to understand
that they dream our dreams and we dream theirs."
Rachel Corrie, at age 10, cited on the website Rachel's
Copyright 2006 The Dance Insider
Tonight was to see the
New York opening of "My Name is Rachel Corrie," the smash London
hit constructed of journal entries and e-mails by the American activist
killed three years ago, at the age of 23, when an Israeli soldier
ran her over with a Caterpillar bulldozer as she was trying to non-violently
block him from bulldozing a home inhabited by an innocent Palestinian
family in the Gaza Strip. Was, that is -- until New York Theater
Workshop artistic director James Nicola, apparently cowed in part
by spurious Internet innuendo against Corrie, chickened out, theoretically
'postponing' but effectively killing the play, a collaboration between
actor Alan Rickman and editor Katharine Viner. Nicola, who evidently
has never heard of Bertolt Brecht, believes that it's not sufficient
to present a play on its own terms; one must first conduct community
surveys and then create a "safe" environment for the playgoer, to
cite the word he used today on Democracy
Now. God knows how Arthur Miller would have fared if
it had been left to Nicola and the New York Theater Workshop to
vet "The Crucible," the thinly veiled parable of the Salem witch
trials that was Miller's brave response to the Red Scare of the
"Censoring a play because
it addresses Palestinian-Israeli issues is not in any way right,"
the acclaimed American playwright Tony Kushner told The Nation in
Philip Weiss's comprehensive article
on the NYTW's decision to 'postpone' the NY premiere of the play,
originally produced by London's Royal Court theater.
"...(W)hat is it about
Rachel Corrie's writings, her thoughts, her feelings, her confusions,
her idealism, her courage, her search for meaning in life -- what
is it that New York audiences must be protected from?" asked 2005
Nobel Prize for Literature recipient Harold
Pinter and 20 other self-identified 'Jewish writers'
in a letter published today in the New York Times. "Rachel Corrie
gave her life standing up against injustice. A theater with such
a fine history should have had the courage to give New York theatergoers
the chance to experience her story for themselves."
Fortunately, the Riverside
Church is stepping in tonight where the New York Theater Workshop,
whose previous productions include "Shopping and Fucking," has shirked
and ducked its duty, presenting "Rachel's Words," a star-studded
evening of readings from Corrie's diaries and e-mail messages, capping
a week of such events around the world. Among those appearing live
or on live video feed will be Maya Angelou, Patti Smith (in a performance
dedicated to Corrie), Eve Ensler, Vanessa Redgrave, Mariam Said,
Najla Said, Alice Walker, Malachy McCourt, and Howard Zinn. Rachel's
parents Cindy and Craig will also be in the house for the evening,
which is hosted by Democracy Now's Amy Goodman and by James Zogby.
The event kicks off at 8 p.m.; for more information, please click
here. To read more about Rachel Corrie, please click