December 28, 2006
TORONTO -- The Canadian production of a play about an American human rights activist who died under the tracks of an Israeli bulldozer in 2003 has been canceled.
Daily Variety reported on December 23 that the production of My Name is Rachel Corrie has been pulled from the 2007-2008 line up in Canada's largest non-profit theater, CanStage. The play was originally produced last year at London's Royal Court Theatre.
A board member for CanStage said that in his view, "it would provoke a negative reaction in the Jewish community."
Variety said that philanthropist Bluma Appel, after whom CanStage's flagship theater is named, concurred. "I told them I would react very badly to a play that was offensive to Jews."
My Name is Rachel Corrie is based on the diaries and e-mails of Rachel Corrie, a member of the International Solidarity Movement who traveled as an activist to the Gaza Strip during the intifada. She was killed when she attempted to halt an Israel Defense Forces bulldozer from razing a house.
Rachel Corrie play nixed in Toronto
Cleveland Jewish News, OH -
(JTA) - A Toronto-based theater removed from its upcoming season a controversial play about a pro-Palestinian activist's death.
Martin Bragg, artistic producer for the Canadian Stage Company or CanStage, said “My Name Is Rachel Corrie” was dropped from consideration because it was dramatically weak, not because of its political content. Bragg said he reached the decision after seeing a production of the play in New York that failed to engage the audience.
Rachel Corrie play: censored in Toronto
An echo of Nicola's fears north of the border occurred within the last couple of months in the Canadian Jewish News. Upon hearing of the possible staging in Toronto of My Name is Rachel Corrie, Alicia Richler, associate director of communications for the Canada-Israel Committee, according to CJC, "said that although everyone in Canada has the right to free speech, the timing of the news is poor, since an Israeli man was recently killed when a rocket launched from the northern Gaza Strip hit a factory in Sderot."
From the Toronto Star, Dec. 24: "The alternate version being told among CanStage insiders: Members of Bragg's board were alarmed by negative response from influential supporters of the theatre, especially in Toronto's Jewish community, who were canvassed for their opinion. Many were dismayed and openly critical when confronted with the prospect of the city's flagship not-for-profit theatre producing a play that could be construed as anti-Semitic propaganda, especially during a frightening period when Israel's existence is threatened by Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas."
Toronto -- News of CanStage's cancellation of its plans to stage a controversial play about a 23-year-old American protester who was crushed by an Israeli Defence Force bulldozer made the New York Times this week. No wonder: That city has had similar battles over My Name is Rachel Corrie, for its perceived anti-Israeli content.
The play, created by actor-director Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner from the diaries and e-mails of the young Palestinian-rights activist, won a best new play prize in this year's Theatregoers' Choice Awards in London. Some British reviewers reported that they found the play revealed Corrie to be obnoxious and foolish, but some North Americans who have seen the play (and some who haven't seen it) say they sense anti-Semitic bias in the script.
A planned production at the New York Theatre Workshop was postponed; the play eventually found an off-Broadway home at the Minetta Lane Theater. The New York production's problems were echoed in Toronto: The non-profit (and currently money-losing) CanStage company was told by at least two prominent benefactors that they would take it badly if CanStage did a play that could stir up feelings against Jews. Although artistic producer Martin Bragg publicly confessed that he'd been "reduced to tears" by the script, and planned to put Rachel Corrie into his 2007-8 season, he said he lost interest after seeing it at Minetta Lane.I guess Martin Bragg was only crying crocodile tears.
Toronto theatre won't stage My Name is Rachel Corrie
Toronto's Canadian Stage Company has decided not to stage My Name is Rachel Corrie, the controversial play about an American peace activist killed by an Israeli bulldozer.
It was a decision based on the play's merits, rather than the political controversy that dogs it, CanStage artistic producer Martin Bragg said in an interview with CBC.ca.
"It was an artistic decision," said Bragg, who saw the play in New York. "It just didn't work on stage."It didn't work on stage, eh. Yep I call that real artistic integrity.
'Rachel Corrie' to Close in London, December 17
The show was originally produced at London's Royal Court Theatre, where it opened in April 2005 and returned for an encore engagement in October 2005. In Spring 2006, it played for nine weeks at the Playhouse Theatre in London's West End.
The play also received the 2006 London Theatregoers' Choice Award for Best Play, Best Director and Best Actress; and was nominated for a Time Out Award (Best Actress), a South Bank Show Award (Best Production) and an Olivier Award (Outstanding Achievement).
And as this wag puts it clearly Martin Bragg claims to artistic integrity are so much bunkum.
I find it perfectly reasonable that a theater rejects a play because it's bad theater -- except why did they book it in the first place? Apparently they were greedily depending on its controversial reputation to sell tickets. In this case, it doesn't matter if the play is good or bad. They entered the arena for bucks. So to change their minds does, in fact, suggest pressure and political issues, not aesthetic ones. So the Toronto theater, it seems to me, is trying to save its ass and reputation here. If they book a play without deciding if it's good enough to do, well, what motives can they have other than greed? And something then happened to make them chicken out.
I don't see any tunnel here do you? But I do see the remains of a house.
Photos by an International Solidarity Movement eyewitness
show Rachel Corrie protesting earlier, and then later,
after she was hit by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza on Sunday.
Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice
Rachel Corrie ? Part 1
Rachel Corrie 23, was a young peace activist from Olympia Washington who was
tragically killed in Gaza by an Israeli Defense Forces Bulldozer in March 2003.
Her parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie now speak about their daughter’s legacy
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