The Playgoer: Corrie @ Edinburgh

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Corrie @ Edinburgh

Still no planned stop for "My Name is Rachel Corrie" in New York, but it will be at the Edinburgh Festival, presumably with Megan Dodds in the original production. (But that's just an assumption.)

I won't be surprised if Alan Rickman pulls something out of his Merlin hat in the next weeks (months?), but let's face it: every day that goes by, every day the controversy receeds, is not good for this play's chances here. At this point, someone would just really, really have to love the play to do it. With it out of the headlines, there's no other cachet for a big company to do it, leaving it to the smaller more adventurous places.

Meanwhile, New York Theatre Workshop has announced its next season, and, for the record, there is no Palestinian-themed play. This was not quite promised, to be fair, but was definitely floated to quell the outrage....Oops, correction: while there is no play from a Palestinian writer, there is a play featuring a character who is an "enigmatic immigrant from the Middle East." Oh, and it's a play written by Six Feet Under and American Beauty's Alan Ball....Close enough?

There must be lots of theatre folk all around relieved that this story has gone away.


Anonymous said...

My memory is getting worse by the day. But I was almost sure that at one of the panels, James Nicola did more or less promise that a Palestinian perspective (or "voice" or "point of view"; I don't remember his exact words) would be featured in the 2006-7 season.

In the context of the discussion, I took that to mean a Palestinian troupe or a Palestinian (or Palestinian-American) playwright rather than just a Palestinian character.

I'd be curious to hear what others in the audience remember, but I'd be surprised if they didn't agree.

Until then, my take: Unless Ball's "enigmatic" Middle Eastern character is identifiably Palestinian, and speaks to peculiarly Palestinian issues, Nicola stretched the truth at the panel--to the breaking point.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, how could this story continue to be "in the headlines"? What would the story be? What's the news? How often do you see headlines on ANY story like, "No Development in Chances for Rachel Corrie Play"? Or "Still No Word of Producer for Corrie Play"? You'll see the headlines when there is news. (I'm not saying this is a good thing about the nature of American media, but it is hardly unique to this story.)

Anonymous said...

Nicola is a pathological liar, as many playwrights before Alan Rickman could have told you. Here is another instance of a lie. I wonder who the poor Palestinian-American playwright was who got the "promise" of production.

Playgoer said...

In response to Anonymous #1...

Just to clarify the thrust of my comments, I'm not bemoaning the lack of "Corrie" coverage in the MSM at the moment. You're right, there's no news.

I'm just saying that no that it IS "out of the news" there's less pressure/incentive for theatres in NYC to do it. Plus, when the controversy was at its height, there were a lot of people supporting the play who would have helped defend any theatre doing it. My concern is that with it no longer a hot issue, a theatre would find itself more alone up against ADL, NY Post et al.

But I'm certainly not encouraging the manufacturing of coverage to counter that. Just wishing other theatres--or Rickman and the Court, who knows--had the courage to act faster.

Anonymous said...

True, there's no "Palestinian perspective" in what NYTW has announced -- and "enigmatic immigrant from the Middle East" has a terrible stereotypical generic ring to it. However, there is lots of room in that calender, so we need to KEEP THE PRESSURE ON NICOLA. (btw, he has been seen lately at various lefty Israel-Palestine symposia, so at least he is educating himself now, late though this may be.)
Re: Playgoer's post above: If the theater community's memory and commitment are too meager to rally behind whoever ends up doing MNIRC even with it out of the headlines, we have no right to complain about censorship.

Anonymous said...

PLAYGOER is, to the best of our recollection, himself a director.

Has PLAYGOER not asked the London producers if, in the absence of a major deal, they would be amenable to an NY showcase, before the publicity iron cools down completely?

Should PLAYGOER not put his theater where his blog is?

Playgoer said...

Point taken, Anonymous (you with the inside information about me).

I don't consider myself an "active" director right now, with so much time devoted to writing.

I seriously doubt the "Corrie" team would give the rights to a showcase production right now. And again, for all we know a deal is in the works with a bigger theatre. And even if nothing happens in the Fall, they would sooner let the Seattle Rep production be the US premiere than some two-weekend run at a 5th floor walk-up like The Access!

But this question will be well worth taking up again if we see no sign of it by the fall. And I'm sure there are many dedicated, enterprising downtown directors who would seize the chance if the rights were up for grabs.

Anonymous said...

What happened to MNiRC in NYC was as much a NYC event as it was a NYTW faux pas. The postponement was brought about by Nicola's stepping back from jumping into a level of politics beyond where he or his theater had gone before. The way it came down was directly related to aspects of NYC theater funding politics.

That being said, the same objections have been raised in Seattle to the planned production of the play by the Rep in spring 2007, but the reactions by the theater community and media there have been more mature than were the reactions in NYC.

Regarding the possible current viewpoint of the London creators and producers of the play, I can imagine that after having been accused in NYC of being anti-Semitic or as being "self-hating Jews," they might want to produce the play any number of places before going back there. Ideally, a production in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Rafah would be more meaningful than one in NYC. Or perhaps to celebrate the re-opening of one of the many Palestinian universities which have been shut down by the occupation authorities?

Anonymous said...

A joint Arab-Jewish theater in Jaffa has been trying for months to get the rights to MNIRC. So far the Royal Court has not agreed.