From The New York Times, March 22:
To the Editor:
Re "Theater Addresses Tension Over Play" (Arts pages, March 16):
We are Jewish writers who supported the Royal Court production of "My Name Is Rachel Corrie." We are dismayed by the decision of the New York Theater Workshop to cancel or postpone the play's production. We believe that this is an important play, particularly, perhaps, for an American audience that too rarely has an opportunity to see and judge for itself the material it contends with.
In London it played to sell-out houses. Critics praised it. Audiences found it intensely moving. So what 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?
The various reasons given by the workshop — Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's coma, the election of Hamas, the circumstances of Rachel Corrie's death, the "symbolism" of her tale — make no sense in the context of this play and the crucial issues it raises about Israeli military activity in the occupied territories.
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.
London, March 20, 2006
This letter was also signed by 18 other writers.
The opening line is important: "We are Jewish writers..." Obviously not part of the "Jewish community" consulted by NYTW. I hope Jewish playwrights on these shores, no matter what their stance on Israeli politics, will speak out as well to encourage open dialogue on our stages at any time, not just when the climate is "safe."
Maybe not news to many of us that the London theatre community is loud and clear against this. And, yes, Pinter has already spoken. But this is in the New York Times. And while maybe not everyone reads the letters section, those that do may be impressed. And wonder how this story goes on without a satisfying answer.