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Wednesday, March 01, 2006
"My Name is Rachel Corrie" censored
A few months ago, I raved about the play "My Name is Rachel Corrie" here on Shoup. I said "I don't know if the production will ever make it to the U.S. given the political climate, but if it does, you should all go see it."

It seems that New York Theatre Workshop was about to put my cynicism to rest and run the play in the Big Apple. Tickets were advertised, the production schedule delivered and the arrangements for cast and crew complete. And then, when everything was nearly in place, the possibility that the play could be POLITICAL raised its ugly head. The NYTW site says,
"We found that there was a strong possibility that a number of factions, on all sides of a political conflict, could use the production as a platform for their own agendas. We were not confident that we had the time to create an environment where the art could be heard independent of the political issues associated with it."
And being the good theatre company that they are they "always try to minimize the distractions around the production so our constituency can hear the artist's voice." So they just couldn't have messy politics ruining their pristine dramatic landscape. Especially not when the play is about a young woman who traveled to one of the hottest political spots on earth and dared to get her hands dirty and get involved. The idea that art, and especially a piece like this, can and should be set apart from political issues is not only absurd, but downright dangerous.

Katharine Viner, who co-edited the play says it most articulately in an article in today's Guardian:
It makes you wonder. If a young, middle-class, scrupulously fair-minded, and dead, American woman, whose superb writing about her job as a mental health worker, ex-boyfriends, troublesome parents, struggle to find out who she wanted to be, and how she found that by travelling to Gaza and discovering the shocking conditions under which the Palestinians live - if a voice like this cannot be heard on a New York stage, what hope is there for anyone else? The non-American, the non-white, the non-dead, the oppressed?
So for those of you living in the U.S. and especially in New York, for goodness sake, email or call up the New York Theatre Workshop and express your distaste for this blatant political censorship. Or better yet, show up with a sign and march around outside. Isn't it about time that right-wing fundagelicals lost their monopoly on theatre picketing?

I, for one, hope that you will never be able to create an environment "where the art can be heard independent of the political issues associated with it."

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