The Playgoer: open letter from Christopher Shinn

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

open letter from Christopher Shinn

From Christopher Shinn to James Nicola, Artistic Director of New York Theatre Workshop:

March 15, 2006
Dear Jim,

Thank you for your statement of March 14th, regarding your decision to postpone My Name Is Rachel Corrie. It is a big step forward in this evolving debate.

I am writing because I feel it is crucial that this conversation now move beyond the internet. Your decision has profoundly impacted thetheatre community -- and beyond. In the past few weeks, thinkers as diverse as Harold Pinter, Robert Fisk, and John Heilpern haveresponded passionately to your public statements. In the blogosphere, emerging and established theatre artists continue to debate the issues you have raised.

The time has come to make this discussion public. The internet is good for lots of things, but it has limits in bringing together a community. We need to hear and respond to each other in real-time now; we need the transparency that only a public forum can provide.

Therefore, I am writing to ask you to hold a public forum at New York Theatre Workshop as soon as possible. The community is longing to be heard, and to hear further from you. Your latest statement raises fraught questions about, in your own words, "presenting difficult subjects in a thoughtful matter," and "social, political, and cultural issues" in the theatre. Your stated commitment to "all communities" and an "open and civil" public dialogue speaks to the need for such a forum.

The postponement of My Name Is Rachel Corrie presents us with a rare opportunity to discuss the theatre's responsibilities to the individual artist and the larger community, and the struggles we all face as we try to create meaningful, relevant work in difficult times. I urge you to bring us together to further this important discussion. I would be proud to serve on the panel with you, and I am sure many others, of all perspectives, would also welcome the opportunity tobring these issues into a public dialogue.

I am at your disposal in making this happen. I look forward to hearing from you.


Christopher Shinn

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