Theatre artists continue to make their own performance pieces out of Rachel Corrie's journals. With productions like this--to be performed in Provincetown this summer--the "authorized" My Name is Rachel Corrie risks becoming a little less special in this country each day.
What's filling the void left by the New York Theatre Workshop's cancellation of the play back in February/March is the considerable activist movement--involving a lot of young people--around the cause of Palestinian rights. They are creating their own plays and events around this controversial figure. Is this perhaps a more authentic political theatre than a slickly crafted professional play from the West End conceived and directed by a movie star?
Even as an opponent of NYTW's decision, though, I must admit I was taken aback to read one account of the controversy in a story about the protests against Caterpillar bulldozers, who made the vehicle that killed Corrie. From the Inter Press Service News:
Recently, a play about Rachel Corrie's life that had two successful runs in London was banned from the New York Theatre Workshop after protests from some Jewish groups. Copies of the play, composed of letters and journal entries, and titled "My Name is Rachel Corrie", were taken off bookshelves and only a few are now available in the United States, the campaigners say.
Sloppy reporting is sloppy reporting, and IPS must have a pretty tunnel-vision approach not to do some independent sourcing on this. (Maybe someone out there has a better idea of who/what IPS is?) There were no ADL-sponsored "protests" in the streets, and certainly no book burning. In fact, I hear TCG Press will be releasing the first US edition soon. Even I, who did not hesitate to call this censorship, did not call it a "ban." ... But it is noteworthy that this is the legend about the episode already spreading in the activist community. And, inaccurate as it is, it is not good for New York downtown theatre for this rumor to be out there. One of the many lethal consequences (even if unintended) of restricting and over-controlling free speech in the first place.