The Playgoer: "Corrie" ALMOST Banned in Boston

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

"Corrie" ALMOST Banned in Boston

Two cheers for Rick Lombardo, A.D. of Boston's New Repertory Theatre. (Actually in suburban Watertown.) I say two, because he did give into the "fair and balanced" approach in programming "Rachel Corrie" (for a March 2008 opening) by pairing it with a pro-Likud play, a tribute to the Natanyahu family at that! But it bit him in the ass when Bibi refused to let his brother's military story share a bill with Corrie's story and withdrew all permissions for this authorized stage bio. So what do we learn about trying to enforce some kind of equal time doctrine in the theatre?

Still, rather than cancel "Corrie," (which I'm sure there was pressure to do) Lombardo found another "pro-Israeli" substitute. So while I still wish theatres didn't have to give into "equal time" pressure in the first place, I can at least applaud Lombardo for at least standing up for the more controversial half of his bill.

Boston Globe's Geoff Edgers (now, post-Daisey, the official correspondent for Beantown theatre controversies?) is on the case.

About the replacement show:
To replace "To Pay the Price" for the March 2008 run, New Rep worked quickly to obtain the rights to "Pieces," a play written by Zohar Tirosh about her experience serving in the Israeli military during the 1990s....

"Pieces" will be performed by its writer, Tirosh, who was 18 when she entered the Israeli army in 1994. During her two years of military service, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's efforts led to the Oslo Accord, and his assassination.

Tirosh has protested past cancellations of "My Name Is Rachel Corrie." She said she's pleased to be presenting her work at New Rep.


Mark said...

As I say over at my place, I think New Rep hasn't fully learned the lesson here. I suspect that the Netayahu and Corrie families wouldn't agree on much, but they both have reservations about plays being paired in this way for the purpose of "context". It's ironic that the very people New Rep wanted to appease by programming a "pro-Israeli" play were less that appreciative of the effort.

Plays about the Middle East are going to be controversial. No amount of "other side" plays or talkbacks are going to stop that discussion from happening. But theaters need to stand behind the choices they make and resist the temptation to compromise an artist's voice in this way. This new development shows that it doesn't work anyway.

Thomas Garvey said...

I'm just glad the Boston area will finally get to see "My Name is Rachel Corrie" (which I'm sure was the New Rep's ultimate goal - the Natanyahu play was essentially a way to smuggle in the goods). I had my own brush with these issues years ago, when I set my production of "Antigone" in Israel, with the Israeli heroine burying a brother who had gone over to the Palestinian side. I got a slew of threats then, and things have only gotten more polarized. For its partisans, there's no "dialogue" possible on this issue.