My Name is Rachel Corrie — Art, Social Change, Censorship

 My Name is Rachel Corrie Staged in Seattle

   Gina Whitfield 

The purpose of art is to inspire us to be more than we are, to question our own assumptions or our entrenched ideas. My Name is Rachel Corrie certainly achieves this; it is an impassioned call to action. The depiction of her life forces the audience to question their assumptions about a young radical, who was in fact not dogmatic or hateful, but whose spirit was caring and who was desperately trying to find good and genuine beauty amidst a hideous conflict. Her words, which form the core of the play, often brought the audience to tears, describing the appalling conditions of life endured under occupation….

My Name is Rachel Corrie, however, has had to struggle to get a run on stage at all…. It’s unlikely to be at a theatre any nearer to you anytime soon.

My Name is Rachel Corrie made its West Coast debut last week at
Seattle’s Repertory Theatre. The one-woman play is based on Corrie’s life and untimely death. The
Olympia Washington native was killed four years ago, in March 2003, at the age of 23. She was crushed by an Isreali bulldozer while she tried, along with an International Solidarity Movement team in the Gaza Strip, to protect a Palestinian home from demolition.
Rachel Corrie’s life, her personal and political passions, and her desire to contribute to peace in the Middle East are compellingly acted out by
Seattle’s Marya Sea Kaminski, who brings her talents to a play that has encountered many obstacles in being brought to stage.
The play is based on Corrie’s journals and email correspondence, which were published in the UK Guardian after her death, and was originally conceived by actor/director Alan Rickman and Guardian editor Katharine Viner. Corrie’s writing is both the inspiration and the script; the young woman was a colourful and talented writer, eloquently describing her wish to not be complicit in her country’s central role supporting the Israeli occupation. The play is effective both because of Kaminski’s delivery, but also because it injects the personal hopes and dreams of a young woman – loves lost, career plans, and family dramas – in addition to Corrie’s evolving political views.

The play has sparked controversy wherever it has been produced or, more accurately, wherever people have attempted to produce it. This has left the British creators screaming censorship, and left many in the artistic community questioning just how free speech is in
North America, where the play hits political nerves. My Name is Rachel Corrie was deemed “too hot” for the Big Apple, for instance.

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