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New York theater company Cancels Rachel Corrie Play

man_slut

TRIBE Member
Cencorsip at its finest:

Legendary Actor Vanessa Redgrave Calls Cancellation of Rachel Corrie Play an “Act of Catastrophic Cowardice”

A New York theater company is coming under criticism for backing out of an agreement to stage a play based on the life of U.S. peace activist Rachel Corrie. The play’s producers are calling the decision censorship. Corrie was killed in Gaza nearly three years ago when she stood in front of an Israeli bulldozer set to demolish a Palestinian home. We speak with actor and activist Vanessa Redgrave. [includes rush transcript]

Rachel Corrie was 23 years old when she was crushed by the bulldozer. The play, entitled “My Name is Rachel Corrie”, is based on her writings before her death. James Nicola, artistic director of the New York Theater Workshop, said "In our pre-production planning and our talking around and listening in our communities in New York, what we heard was that after Ariel Sharon’s illness and the election of Hamas, we had a very edgy situation. We found that our plan to present a work of art would be seen as us taking a stand in a political conflict, that we didn’t want to take."

Last night we spoke with Oscar award-winning actress and activist, Vanessa Redgrave.

Vanessa is one of the most famous of the legendary Redgrave acting dynasty. She started her acting career opposite her father, Sir Michael Redgrave. Her children are Natasha Richardson and Jolie Richardson. Her son-in-law is Liam Neeson and heer brother is the equally outspoken Corin Redgrave. Her sister is actor Lynne Redgrave.

During her acting career that spanned some 47 years she has served as UN goodwill ambassador and was a founding member of International Artists Against Racism.

In 1977, Redgrave funded and narrated a documentary film on the plight of the Palestinian people. That same year she starred in the film Julia, about a woman murdered by the Nazi regime in the years prior to World War II for her anti-Fascist activism. She won an Oscar for her performance. At the awards ceremony she spoke out on behalf of Palestinians, an Oscar acceptance speech that is referred to even to this day.

Vanessa Redgrave, actor and activist.

------------------------------------------------------------------------


RUSH TRANSCRIPT

This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast.


AMY GOODMAN: Last night, we visited the home of Oscar Award-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave and talked to her about the situation. During her acting career – it has spanned some 47 years -- she has served as U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, was a founding member of the International Artists Against Racism. Vanessa Redgrave is one of the most famous of the legendary Redgrave acting dynasty. She started her acting career opposite her father, Sir Michael Redgrave. Her children are Natasha Richardson and Jolie Richardson, her son-in-law Liam Neeson. Her brother, equally outspoken, is Corin Redgrave; her sister, actor Lynne Redgrave.

In 1997, Vanessa Redgrave funded and narrated a documentary based on the plight of the Palestinian people. That same year, she starred in the film Julia, about a woman murdered by the Nazi regime in the years prior to World War II for her anti-Fascist activism. Vanessa Redgrave won an Oscar for her performance. At the awards ceremony she spoke out on behalf of Palestinians, an Oscar acceptance speech that’s referred to even to this day. Well, last night we spoke with her at her home in London, just before she went into the hospital this morning for an operation, about the postponement of the play My Name Is Rachel Corrie.

More at: http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/03/08/1620208
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
This kind of stuff makes me sad... indicative of the intellectual decline we're experiencing these days... I mean, it shouldnt matter where you stand on Israel/Palestine, for one to see that this kind of thing is bad for everyone. When we start limiting our discussion to "safe" topics, we open ourselves up to all kinds of danger and abuse...

Whether you disagree with the people putting on the play or not, you have to be able to hear opposing viewpoints without having a coronary. I would argue that ESPECIALLY due to recent political events, ideas like those in the play should be discussed...
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
Colm said:
This isn't censorship, this is theatre execs not wanting to upset their friends.
I think that's called "self-censorship"... the effect is the same as full-on, government ordered censorship: no one sees the play. Or reads the book or newspaper article. When pressure comes to bear on somebody and they decide NOT to put on a play, or publish the book or whatever, thats censorship, whether overt, government dictat style, or through the pressures and sensibilities of society at large.

Self-censorship is perhaps even more insidious, since there's no real government order given that we can point to as the culprit, and in newspaper journalism for example, articles still get printed, but maybe with certain key facts omitted due to a reporter shaping his article into a form he knows will be more likely to be published "as is", without interference from his editor, who's prior decisions help the reporter guage what will and what won't get past the editor. On a professional level, some of that is good - the editor can separate the wheat from the chaff as it were and help ensure better quality across the board... but that sword cuts both ways, and sometimes decisions are made for other reasons than journalistic quality (not stepping on advertiser's toes for example).
 
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Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Regarding
MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE

New York Theatre Workshop did not cancel or censor “My Name is Rachel Corrie” and we are saddened by these charges. With a schedule largely driven by director Alan Rickman’s pre-existing film commitments, we had less than two months to consider mounting the production. In even attempting this unusually short timeline, this theatre distinguished itself from most others.

When we found that there was a very strong possibility that a number of factions, on all sides of a political conflict, would use the play as a platform to promote their own agendas, we asked a rather routine question, or so we thought, to our London colleagues about altering the time frame. Our intent in asking for the postponement was to allow us enough time to contextualize the work so Rachel Corrie’s powerful voice could best be heard above the din of others shouting for their own purposes.

We were never for a second concerned about the response from people who actually sat in the theater and experienced the work. Our commitment to “My Name is Rachel Corrie” has never wavered.

To have our request for more time blown into a screed about censorship is quite stunning.

James Nicola
Artistic Director, New York Theatre Workshop
 
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praktik

TRIBE Member
^^^

tooshay


Though she does say pressures from outside groups were behind the decision, which in my mind still qualifies as self-censorship.... but hey, I guess there's better things to argue about than semantics...

like which tastes better, Cool Ranch or straight Cheese flavoured Doritos?

my vote is cool ranch all the waY!
 

enemy Ai

TRIBE Member
The play indeed is very controversial. Based on the facts below here is why I think the theater would consider cancellation of this play:

Rachel Corrie showed Palestinian children how to despise America.


Take a look at the picture of this “PEACE ACTIVIST”

Rachel Corrie was blamed for suicide bombings and claimed that she fomented anti-American feelings and supported the elimination of the state of Israel.

Corrie died in a bulldozer accident while trying to obstruct an Israeli operation against Palestinian weapons-smuggling tunnels. Basically she was defending the homes that the terrorists used to smuggle explosives from Egypt to Gaza.
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
^^^

well if you were running the theatre company Im sure those reasons would qualify... Nonethless I hardly think you're an impartial observer on this score...

Remember that there's a substantial # of people in the palestinian territories for humanitarian reasons. I think that on the evidence, Rachel Corrie was there mainly for those purposes and as an activist for Palestinian causes (causes separate from the violence associated with terrorism). Advocating withdrawal from the territories and an end to occupation does not necessarily make one a terrorist. I think that after her death, that those on both sides of this issue have probably made political hay from it.

You've given us a good rundown of what the Pro Israeli side has come up with, but I think the objective truth would show us that she wasnt a terrorist, but a left-leaning political activist. Sometimes such people are called "anti-american", but if you talked to Rachel, or someone like Cindy Sheehan, they'd probably take issue with slander like that. And while the destruction of some homes were probably justified, MANY homes and orchards have been bulldozed as a form of collective punishment. Was the destruction of the home Ms Corrie was lying in front of justified? I don't have all the facts. But I know enough not believe that it was justified right off the bat. I'll need some evidence before I can conclude that it was a justified destruction...

Under international law those practises are questionable.... Anyway my friend, not arguing with you here to say Im right and you're wrong, cause I dont think either of us have the facts to prove this one way or the other. Jst trying to illustrate the fact that the real situation probably doesnt boil down to something as simplistic as your post would lead one to believe on its own...
 

saskboy

TRIBE Member
'Corrie' canceled in Canada
Play has potential to offend Jewish community
By RICHARD OUZOUNIAN

'My Name is Rachel Corrie'
'My Name is Rachel Corrie' has been pulled from CanStage's 2007-08 season.
It's curtains for "My Name Is Rachel Corrie" in Canada.

CanStage, the country's largest not-for-profit theater, has reversed its earlier decision and opted not to present the show as part of its 2007-08 season.

Play, about the 23-year-old American activist who died under the wheels of an Israeli bulldozer in 2003, was originally produced at London's Royal Court Theater in 2005.

James Nicola programmed it this year for the New York Theater Workshop, but that production was canceled after resistance from board members and subscribers. Show was eventually produced Off Broadway, where it ran for two months.

"It didn't seem as powerful on the stage as it did on the page," said CanStage creative producer Martin Bragg after seeing the production at Gotham's Minetta Lane Theater.

But in a situation eerily similar to the one that faced Nicola, it appears that Bragg faced pressure from some of his board members not to alienate Toronto's Jewish community.

While admitting he has neither read nor seen the script, CanStage board member Jack Rose said, "My view was it would provoke a negative reaction in the Jewish community."

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," she said.

Bragg denied he was lobbied by the board in any way and insisted, "I pick the plays. No one on our board has ever told me what we can and can't do."

CanStage posted a $700,000 loss in its most recent season and is facing a struggle as this year it produced 10 plays, none of which met with critical or audience approval.
 
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OTIS

TRIBE Member
man_slut said:
"We found that our plan to present a work of art would be seen as us taking a stand in a political conflict, that we didn’t want to take."
Funny, that's like saying putting on a play of Anne Frank's diary (which there are many) is taking an (unwanted) stand in a political conflict.

This kind of censorship is extremely irritating. It sends the implicit message that being Jewish is to support Israeli policy, and that criticism of one is criticism of the other. It’s a dangerous kind of thought regardless of who’s involved.
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
CanStage is running at a loss Rachel Corrie hasn't been a success.

Does CanStage dump another play on to its schedule that isn't going to draw people and is going to possibly anger a large group of people. This isn't like the Anne Frank's diary which is several decades old, this is very recent and a much more touchy subject. But the time Anne Frank's diary was on stage the war was over for a few decades, this war is still occuring.
 

~atp~

TRIBE Member
Wow, enemy AI puts up a convincing argument. Clearly, Rachel Corrie is a terrorist and freedom hater. Look at the eeeeevil in her eyes. The terror, clearly emanating from her lips. The revolting waves of oppression dissipating from her very soul...my god.

Nuke them all!
 

OTIS

TRIBE Member
Ditto Much said:
CanStage is running at a loss Rachel Corrie hasn't been a success.

Does CanStage dump another play on to its schedule that isn't going to draw people and is going to possibly anger a large group of people. This isn't like the Anne Frank's diary which is several decades old, this is very recent and a much more touchy subject. But the time Anne Frank's diary was on stage the war was over for a few decades, this war is still occuring.

Although it's tempting to reduce this down to sheer economics, I doubt that's at all the dominant factor at all given that it's more acceptable to provide an economic reason for the cancellation than the controversial one they've given. For that reason, what you posted isn't plausible.

As for the Anne Frank example, it was meant to be taken in the most abstract way -that a play about Anne Frank wasn't meant to showcase a sanitized political position, that it was a tale of humanity immersed in horror. A larger theme arguably lost on those whose interest it is to narrow the debate.

No good play will be the neutrally framed entity that this theatre would ostensibly like to produce. For that reason, it's ridiculous that they would pull it simply for political controversy.

Just because it's more temporally relevant might mean it needs to be more sensitive, but doesn't at all mean it should be censored.
 

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
i hate censorship in any form, and find this story disturbing on multiple fronts.

taking a bigger picture view, im not surprised at all that this play would face stiff resistance in canada. people are very quick to praise our anti-hate speech legislation when it suits their particular cause. its difficult to support free speech for those with whom you disagree.

when Benjamin Netanyahu visited York U a few years back, he was faced with tons of protest and resistance from various groups claiming that his very presence was unfair, that he was a war criminal, that York's invitation to him was tantmount to taking a pro-isreali/anti-arab stand and etc etc.

why werent these people standing up for his right to express himself, no matter how vile his views were?
why werent people proclaiming the resistance he faced and the calls for stopping him from speaking as marks of declining intellectual freedom and criticality?

(granted there were some but they were accused of being pro-isreal, or they were actually jewish so they too were biased, but i didnt see a similar reaction than i have to this play's difficulties)

and i bring this example up because i specifically disagree with Mr. Netanyahu but hate to see him or anyone face this kind of resistance just to express their veiws.
 
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man_slut

TRIBE Member
^^^ Most of those protestors were trying to bring media and public attention to the current war crimes being perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian peoples. The majority believed Netanyahu had every right to speak and they every right to protest everything he stands for (besides freedom of speech... which I think he doesn't really stand for... well maybe only for Israeli Jews but not for Arabs living within Israel...)
 

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
man_slut said:
^^^ Most of those protestors were trying to bring media and public attention to the current war crimes being perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian peoples. The majority believed Netanyahu had every right to speak and they every right to protest everything he stands for (besides freedom of speech... which I think he doesn't really stand for... well maybe only for Israeli Jews but not for Arabs living within Israel...)
you make a fair point but i do not believe most fo the protesters were in favour of him speaking at all.

regardless of what mr. netahyahu was going to say, i think its a clear case of a pro-palastinian issue getting a positive spin via censorship issues while a clearly pro-isreali issue getting a negative spin even though are essentially issues surrounding freedom of speech and how we rationalize the result.

like i said i dont believe attempts to bar mr. netanyahu from speaking were met with the same kind of disappointment among many of the people who were protesting the current play's problems w/ being staged.
 

man_slut

TRIBE Member
Also Netanyahu isn't a victim like Rachel Corrie or Anne Frank... he's an elite with complete means/access to power (money and weapons... nuclear weapons). He got to speak, no? If memory serves me correct he also got to speak at the Ford Center by Mel Lastman Square. Most of the people I know that attended the protests were primarily trying to bring media/public attention to Israeli War Crimes.
 

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
man_slut said:
Also Netanyahu isn't a victim like Rachel Corrie or Anne Frank... he's an elite with complete means/access to power (money and weapons... nuclear weapons). He got to speak, no? If memory serves me correct he also got to speak at the Ford Center by Mel Lastman Square. Most of the people I know that attended the protests were primarily trying to bring media/public attention to Israeli War Crimes.
and the rachel corrie play has been staged as well,
you are shifting the basis of the argument.

it doesnt matter the power positions or the views as much as how people seem to be reacting to the issue of free speech based on these differences when it shouldnt matter.

free speech should be free regardless of what youre saying. (imho, some favour anti-hate speech laws but these are stepping stones to further censorship, but thats another debate)

you are right about the protestors but recall some were calling for him to be barred from speaking. others said his speeches were tantmount to hate, and again the claim that Netanyahu was a war criminal brought charges against York and the like for corroborating with him.

you can appreciate why this theater company had concerns over the same types of accusations that might be levied against them for staging this play.
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
I think it's probably tough for any of us to pontificate on the motivations of a bunch of people we don't know (or know only a few of) regarding a protest that occurred some time ago.

It seems to me like both man_slut and judge wopner agree that banning speech, even if objectionable is wrong.

Who knows? Maybe there were a few that wanted him not to speak at all, but I don't think we could draw anything meaningful from that. Whatever the political demographic there'll be someone who annoys them so much they'd prefer not to have em speak.

Let's move on... :)
 
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