The Playgoer: Next at NYTW?

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Next at NYTW?

I hear that New York Theatre Workshop plans to finally announce their next show this week, and that it will open first week of May.

Remember, My Name is Rachel Corrie was supposed to open last night, March 22. Think back to four (!) weeks ago when this story broke. If you're Jim Nicola had it to do all over again, would you have gone ahead with the show, deal with the protests, etc, and be basking in some probably nice reviews this morning? Or... would you relive the past month? In hindsight, which seems worse?

And if you're the NYTW board, are you really happy about your theatre now being dark for practically two whole months over this???

Stay tuned and keep clicking here. It will be refreshing not to see Niocla's painfully out of date Macrh 14 statement up there anymore.

4 comments:

Anne said...

Here's a relevant quote from Democracy Now's transcript:

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/03/22/1435259

LYNN MOFFAT: I would say – well, pulled is a rough word, but I would say that 50% of the productions that we schedule do not happen in the schedule that we had originally intended. That's a lot. That's half.

KATHARINE VINER: But with six weeks notice, Lynn?

LYNN MOFFAT: Yes, with six weeks notice. Well, I mean, Katharine, you have to remember, you know, Rachel Corrie wasn't coming into an empty spot in the theater. There had been another artist booked there, and we had come to an agreement with him to --

JAMES NICOLA: Move him.

LYNN MOFFAT: -- move him, move his show into the next season, so we could do Rachel Corrie.


If NYTW are really so very flexible, if they really "reschedule" plays on a few weeks' notice all the time and in fact have something else they were originally going to stage in the Corrie slot, why are they dark???

It doesn't add up.

Anonymous said...

Of course it doesn't add up. Because NYTW is knee-deep in damage control. The statements coming out now are filtered through six layers of PR spin.

If this was really all about theatre logistics and visas and business details, Moffat would have a point when she charges that "pulled" is a harsh word.

But to believe the "theatre logistics" explanation, you need to erase from your memory the original NYT article, the Observer article and the original website statement.

Jim Nicola said he talked to friends who had problems with the play. He said he pulled the play because of the edgy political situation. These things are matters of record.

Nicola can disown these statements (his job probably hangs in the balance) but at this point, why on earth should we believe him?

Anonymous said...

How could they be ready to announce a new show? My community has not been consulted. What about contextualization? People must be prepared! They mustn't yet announce! AHHHHH!!!!!!!!

freespeechlover said...

I watched the Democracy Now show, say the body language of Nicola and Moffat and attended the event at Riverside Church. I cannot begin to tell you how eerily this event parallels one at my university last year in which a small group of "Concerned Citizens" worked behind the scenes to try and massage an art exhibit by Palestinian American artist, Emily Jacir. In our case, the exhibit was not postponed and went ahead without any contexualizing "literature" next to it (the CCs goal once they had to face that the exhibit was coming). But NOT after a struggle initiated by the artist herself that involved artists emailing the university from all over the world. It was a ridiculous case of the university self-destructive behavior having to be corrected by the artist, and she had to do it, because only an "outsider" could have cleaned things up, because of donors, the art museum supervisor at the time, and art museum "community" "support" were all immeshed with passionate Zionists who likely made less passionate ones want to keep quiet. Jim Nicola and Lynn Moffat paralled our Museum Director and his then supervisor who heads our endowment association in body language and personality. You have the naive, "I'm-learning-as-I-go," looking away from the camera guy and the public relations phallic mother. Unbelievable. What is it about white masculinity in America that leads to these kind of couplings where gay men need these kind of women's protection??? It's a sad statement on the absence of progress on the gender front.

After listening to Moffat, I thought it was just as well that My Name is Rachel Corrie did NOT go to the NYTW. I had no idea that they researched their productions, etc. Moffat was talking about bringing in scholars to "contextualize" My Name is Rachel Corrie. So, the theater would be neither theater nor the university but a combination of both. Uh, no thanks. I can just imagine the "scholars" they would bring to "contextualize" Rachel Corrie. I think there's a good chance that they would have (inadvertently of course!) pitted Rachel Corrie's words against the "scholarship" on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I'm sure that Cindy and Craig Corrie would have loved that.

In retrospect, the production should have started in Seattle, Rachel's home town, gone to San Francisco and moved from West to East coast. Now, you may all kill me for what I'm about to say. There is no place in the U.S. that values freedom of speech like the San Francisco Bay Area. This is a product of local history, namely the Free Speech Movement at U.C. Berkeley in the 1960s. I admit I have a bias. I grew up in Berkeley and went to undergrad and grad school in the U.C. system. No one touches free speech there. No one freaks out about protests outside events. It's par for the course, so if there were opponents of the production, they could have stood outside, handing out leaflets. Of course that would have just drawn more people to see the production. Had the production begun in Rachel's hometown and gone to S.F., where my impression is that there is more vocal support for Palestinian points of view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by the time the production reached New York, I suspect that good reviews might have stayed the hand of the NYTW. Although again, I'm still struck by the condescending attitude toward their audience--that everyone who crosses their doorway has to be subjected to "very structured" (Moffat's words) "discussions."

Now, for the Rachel Corrie event at Riverside Church. What was striking to me were my own prejudices. I thought that I would find the event moving, because I have lived in the West Bank and support Palestinian rights. I know that the Israeli government is responsible for the propaganda about the International Solidarity Movement aiding and abetting "terrorism," which for the Israeli government means anything from throwing rocks, to speaking out against the occupation (called "incitement" by successive Israeli administrations) to firing homemade rockets that are so technologically primitive that they often miss any human target to smuggling weapons to violence against soldiers and military installations to suicide bombings of civilians.

What I was unprepared for was the quality of Rachel Corrie's writing. I thought that I would sympathize with her words on political grounds. I had no idea that Corrie was such a good writer. Nor did I know how overpowering her words would be when read outloud. I thought maybe the Royal Court Theatre was exaggerating about people leaving the theater not talking, etc., but I can see that I was carrying with me the attitude it's good politics, but not great theater. I don't think that's true anymore, and I believe Viner when she says that the NYTW has been contacted by theaters across the U.S. who want to do the production.

I believe that My Name is Rachel Corrie will come to the U.S. and to New York city. It may come to New York after going elsewhere, but I suspect that in the end some theater director will be smart enough to figure out that there is a bottom line and will want the ticket sales.