The Playgoer: Pinter et al, NYT letter

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Pinter et al, NYT letter

From The New York Times, March 22:

To the Editor:

Re "Theater Addresses Tension Over Play" (Arts pages, March 16):

We are Jewish writers who supported the Royal Court production of "My Name Is Rachel Corrie." We are dismayed by the decision of the New York Theater Workshop to cancel or postpone the play's production. We believe that this is an important play, particularly, perhaps, for an American audience that too rarely has an opportunity to see and judge for itself the material it contends with.

In London it played to sell-out houses. Critics praised it. Audiences found it intensely moving. So what is it about Rachel Corrie's writings, her thoughts, her feelings, her confusions, her idealism, her courage, her search for meaning in life — what is it that New York audiences must be protected from?

The various reasons given by the workshop — Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's coma, the election of Hamas, the circumstances of Rachel Corrie's death, the "symbolism" of her tale — make no sense in the context of this play and the crucial issues it raises about Israeli military activity in the occupied territories.

Rachel Corrie gave her life standing up against injustice. A theater with such a fine history should have had the courage to give New York theatergoers the chance to experience her story for themselves.

Gillian Slovo
Harold Pinter
Stephen Fry
London, March 20, 2006
This letter was also signed by 18 other writers.

The opening line is important: "We are Jewish writers..." Obviously not part of the "Jewish community" consulted by NYTW. I hope Jewish playwrights on these shores, no matter what their stance on Israeli politics, will speak out as well to encourage open dialogue on our stages at any time, not just when the climate is "safe."

Maybe not news to many of us that the London theatre community is loud and clear against this. And, yes, Pinter has already spoken. But this is in the New York Times. And while maybe not everyone reads the letters section, those that do may be impressed. And wonder how this story goes on without a satisfying answer.


Anonymous said...

I'd love to know who the other writers are.

It's nice that the letter has the balls to call the bluff on NYTW's idiotic and contradictory excuses.

Anonymous said...

You're right that not the entire "Jewish community" supports this kind of repression just as not the entire "Jewish community" supports the Israeli occupation.

I too wish we could see the entire list of the signers of the letter. I hope they don't face reprisals for signing it.

Anonymous said...

Democracy Now put this morning's broadcast up on their web page at 10:00 a.m. edt. It opens with Amy Goodman interviewing Viner and Nicola. it is a prelude to today's NYC "My Name is Rachel Corrie" event, to br hosted by Goodman.

Here's the link to their page:

click on "listen/watch entire show." When you get to the new page, choose your playback or download media.

Playgoer said...

Philip--Thank you! Very valuable and newsworthy. As you can see the link is now up.

Anonymous said...

The full list of names is up on now (don't think it was when I looked earlier today, they must have added it):

Gillian Slovo
Harold Pinter
Stephen Fry
Lisa Appignanesi
Ivor Dembina
Morris Farhi
Linda Grant
Michelle Hanson
Eva Hoffman
Ann Jungman
Michael Kustow
Simon Louvish
Sonja Lyndon
Susie Orbach
Jacqueline Rose
Michael Rosen
Leon Rosselson
Donald Sassoon
Alexei Sayle
Lynne Segal
Michelene Wandor