The Playgoer: Nicola fights back

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Nicola fights back

Presumably miffed by the public protests of Rachel Corrie's creative team, Alan Rickman and Katherine Vine, James Nicola has updated his defense on the NYTW website. (Man's posting like a blogger!)

Check out the attitude! We're getting raw now:

New York Theatre Workshop did not cancel or censor “My Name is Rachel Corrie” and we are saddened by these charges. With a schedule largely driven by director Alan Rickman’s pre-existing film commitments, we had less than two months to consider mounting the production. In even attempting this unusually short timeline, this theatre distinguished itself from most others.
Wow. Blame the movie star. Live by celebrity, die by it, man.
When we found that there was a very strong possibility that a number of factions, on all sides of a political conflict, would use the play as a platform to promote their own agendas, we asked a rather routine question, or so we thought, to our London colleagues about altering the time frame. Our intent in asking for the postponement was to allow us enough time to contextualize the work so Rachel Corrie’s powerful voice could best be heard above the din of others shouting for their own purposes.
So let me get this straight. NYTW has let the perception circulate for 3 days now that the show has been cancelled, when nothing could be further from the truth! There's one simple way he could make us believe this: announce a new date. If contractural reasons prevent that, then how about giving us at least some ballpark figure of how long you think is necessary to do all this "contextualizing" you speak of, to educate us in understanding this play. (translated: to convince us you're not anti-semites. Face it, Jim, it's not for our good but for yours.)...Until Nicola starts sketching out just what this re-education program would be, I can't take the argument seriously....And, to second one of my commenters below, when have such measures ever been deemed necessary before???

We were never for a second concerned about the response from people who actually sat in the theater and experienced the work. Our commitment to “My Name is Rachel Corrie” has never wavered.
Uh...what's your definition of "commitment"?
To have our request for more time blown into a screed about censorship is quite stunning.

James Nicola

Hey, is he reading Playgoer?

What's funny is how today's reaction is so incommensurate with the low level of public/press outrage in general. Aside from the authors battling it out with him in the press, it's a news story but not a controversy yet. No public statements from 3rd parties crying censorship. Is it possible Nicola is hearing this privately? from prominent friends of NYTW (where's Tony Kushner?) who don't want to embarass their cherished theatre in public?

3 comments:

Christopher Shinn said...

This is very sad. I was hoping this was all due to a miscommunication but clearly that is not the case. I've been produced by the Royal Court, and I'm a usual supect at NYTW, and I've been desperately hoping for some kind of reconciliation or clarification. It's clear now that it's not coming.

I respect Jim Nicola and his theatre but his statement is incoherent. It's paternalistic and preposterous. Make no mistake: a play has been censored in America because of its political content.

By attempting to avoid offending a few people, New York Theatre Workshop has offended everyone. Its decision sends a terrible message to playwrights in America and citizens worldwide. This decision must be denounced as powerfully and vocally as possible.

Finally, thank you, Playgoer, for being one of the few places in the country to recognize the gravity of this decision. Your blog has been indispensable over the last few days.

Dr. Cashmere said...

So the new party line is that the play hasn't been *censored*--it's just been postponed indefinitely because there was insufficient time to "contextualize" the work to people who were offended by it and had no intention of seeing it.

Why am I having trouble grasping this distinction?

The Playgoer said...

Dear Christopher Shinn:

Thank you so much for using Playgoer as your platform to voice this much needed playwright solidarity. How wonderful it would be to see some kind of open letter soon collectively signed by artists such as yourself. Maybe we can make that happen.