The Playgoer: Royal Court Statement

Custom Search

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Royal Court Statement

(UPDATE: I have confirmed the authenticity of this text with another copy independently obtained.)

"Olyblog", a blogger from Olympia, WA--i.e. Rachel Corrie territory--has gotten hold of and posted the official statement from the Royal Court (yes, it's a press release, I guess, but it hasn't been widely disseminated in full).

Here is the complete text. It's long. But thorough. Score one more point for credibility on the other side of the Atlantic:

We have been surprised to read recent assertions made by James Nicola, Artistic Director of the New York Theatre Workshop, surrounding the run of MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE which had been scheduled to play there in March, April and May 2006. There are many factual inaccuracies which we would like to address.

Plans for the production of MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE were definite. Representatives of the Royal Court Theatre met with NYTW in New York to finalise arrangements seven days before learning that Mr. Nicola wished to postpone the run indefinitely. The production schedule had already been laid out by the NYTW on January 31st,with the first preview scheduled for March 22nd and closing night for May 14th; a budget had been set; a press release had been mutually agreed; flights had been booked and paid for, all with the knowledge of the New York Theatre Workshop. Furthermore, ticket information was already listed on the site of the U.S. ticketing agency Telecharge on February 23rd, 2006 with the correct information about dates, times, original creative team and casting.

Asking for a postponement at this stage in the planning can hardly be described as "a rather routine question, so we thought, of our colleagues" as Mr. Nicola says in his statement on the NYTW website.

In the same statement, and in a letter to the L.A. Times of March 5, 2006, Mr. Nicola claims that "With a schedule largely driven by Alan Rickman's pre-existing film commitments, we had less than two months to consider mounting the production." In fact, Alan Rickman first visited the New York Theatre Workshop to discuss the possibility of staging MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE in November 2005. The dates of the production were determined by availability at the theatre, and Mr. Rickman's film schedule was to be ordered around this. He held back from making any film commitments until after the dates were offered and confirmed by NYTW.

In the New York Times on February 28th, 2006, in an article titled, 'Play about Demonstrator's Death is Delayed', it is reported that Mr. Nicola decided to postpone the work "after polling local Jewish religious and community leaders as to their feeling about the work." This much he had explained to Diane Borger, General Manager of the Royal Court, during a phone conversation on February 17th, in which he asked to "postpone indefinitely" the production. In a later conversation, he said he would be willing to reassess the political climate in a year's time and decide then if he could produce the piece with a companion work that would offer an alternative perspective. As explained to Mr. Nicola, this was not acceptable to the Royal Court, as he gave no commitment at this time to revised dates for the production at NYTW. The Royal Court and the Corrie family have always believed that the play speaks for itself. In the words of Rachel's father, Craig Corrie, "No one should have to take a poll to do this play; it is a work of art."

A postponement at any time, but especially at this late stage, is not the action of an organisation committed to producing MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE. The Royal Court cannot be confident that the political climate will have changed in a year's time and we are deeply saddened that the New York Theatre Workshop feels unable to let the play be seen now. However, the Royal Court Theatre remains committed to bringing MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE to a U.S. audience at the earliest opportunity.

Again I think the timeline is crucial. One would think these facts would be pretty easy to establish and why would anyone lie about them if they can be checked? Obviously NYTW has downplayed the finality of the decision. I'm sorry, but tickets available on Telecharge? Sounds pretty set to me.

Once such a firm commitment is established then the NYTW (namely Jim Nicola) has to explain the process by which is mind changed so extremely. He can no longer say I was kinda thinking about it and then kinda thought again. Everyone is going to be asking one simple question: what happened to make you go from "put it on Telecharge" to "hold on"? Who exactly did you "poll" to get a second opinion? At least with Corpus Christi and the Brooklyn Museum incidents, we had a "Catholic League" and a Rudy Guilliani raising the ruckus out in the open. Now the opponents hide in the shadows.

Will the real opponents of "Rachel Corrie" please stand?


Anonymous said...


I visited telecharge a week or ten days before this broke, and the "My Name is Rachel Corrie" ticket page was up and running.

Philip Munger

Anonymous said...

I can also confirm that the complete, detailed information about "My Name is Rachel Corrie" did appear on the Telecharge site. I found it there on 2/21/06 and then called NYTW about obtaining tickets, at which time they seemed unaware that the information was live on Telecharge. Within a few hours it was pulled from Telecharge.

Scott Walters said...

I'm with you all the way. However, can you explain what the hell "No one should have to take a poll to do this play; it is a work of art" MEANS???