"My Name Is Rachel Corrie" Staged in Des Moines, Iowa

By Gillespie, Michael | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, April 2008 | Go to article overview

"My Name Is Rachel Corrie" Staged in Des Moines, Iowa


Gillespie, Michael, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


ALMOST FIVE years after Rachel Corrie was crushed and killed by an Israel Defense Force bulldozer, a Denver theater company, Countdown to Zero, staged two Jan. 26, performances of the internationally renowned one-woman play about the martyred peace activist before larger than expected audiences in Des Moines, Iowa.

Brian Freeland directed Julie Rada, the company's associate artistic director, in the first Iowa production of "My Name is Rachel Corrie." Rada's sensitive performance offered Des Moines audiences an opportunity to meet an enormously talented young woman whose view of life and death in occupied Palestine was informed by the passion and sensibilities of a human rights activist and expressed with the eloquence of a poet.

Many in the audience were overwhelmed. Some wiped away tears during the performance, while others sobbed quietly. Yet there was also laughter, as Rachel's keen and quirky sense of humor shone through again and again.

"My Name Is Rachel Corrie," edited from Rachel's writings by British actor Alan Rickman and Guardian (UK) journalist and editor Katharine Viner, was first staged at the Royal Court Theatre in London in April 2005, to rave reviews and sold-out houses (see the July 2005 Washington Report, p. 80). It won the best new play prize at the Theatregoers' Choice Awards in London. The play premiered in the USA off-Broadway at the Minetta Lane Theatre in October 2006 (see the December 2006 Washington Report, pp. 41 and 45), after a planned production at the New York Theater Workshop was "indefinitely postponed" on the grounds that "it would provoke a negative reaction in the Jewish community." The play has since been staged in several North American cities, despite protests in some and cancellations in others due to pressure from Zionist organizations.

If there were attempts at censorship in Des Moines, the administrators of Grace United Methodist Church, where the play was staged, have not discussed them publicly. …

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