When controversy and tragedy are understood through art, unexplainable events find truth and meaning. "My Name Is Rachel Corrie" is a play inspired by the personal journals and e-mails of Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old, from Olympia, Wash., killed by a bulldozer in Gaza in March 2003. Actor Alan Rickman and journalist Katherine Viner of The Guardian newspaper edited Rachel's writings and created a one-woman play that reveals the inner voice and thoughts of Rachel before she was killed.
The nexStage Theatre in Ketchum will present its second reading of "My Name Is Rachel Corrie" on Tuesday, July 13, and Wednesday, July 14, at 7 p.m. The readings will be presented and directed by Jonathan Kane and will feature Charlotte Hemmings as Corrie. Admission is free and a question-and-answer session with Rachel's parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie, will follow the play readings each evening.
The Corries founded the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, where they continue the work their daughter began. The foundation conducts and supports programs that foster connections between people that build understanding, respect and appreciation for differences and promote cooperation within and between local and global communities.
The Corries are recipients of a Human Rights Advocate of the Year Award from Seattle University's Human Rights Network, a Pillar of Peace Award from the Pacific Northwest Region of the American Friends Service Committee and a Peacemakers Award from the Rebuilding Alliance in Redwood City, Calif.
"It's been seven years since Rachel was killed," Craig said. "We are still going through a justice process."
On March 16, 2003, an Israeli military Caterpillar D9R bulldozer on the Gaza Strip killed Rachel while she was trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian family's home. Rachel went to the Gaza Strip because she wanted to make a difference and believed in human rights.
"She was taking steps to go to the Gaza Strip, learning Arabic and talking with professors, especially one professor who grew up in Israel," Craig said. "We encouraged her curiosity. We are proud of her because she was so aware of how people are marginalized. She had a strong ethic, and it comes out in her writings and the play."
With their daughter Sarah, the Corries co-edited "Let Me Stand Alone: the Journals of Rachel Corrie," a collection of Rachel's poetry, essays, letters and journal entries published by W.W. Norton & Co. in 2008.
The Corries have continued to seek accountability in the case of their daughter and to challenge U.S. foreign policy in Israel and Palestine through efforts with Congress, the departments of State and Justice, the Israeli government, the Israeli and U.S. court systems and Caterpillar. Seven years after their daughter's killing, the Corries' civil lawsuit in Israel opened on March 10 and is now in recess until September.
"The play facilitates people to think about the question of human rights," Craig said. "When you come from a position of privilege like the American middle class, which compared to most people around the world is a position of privilege, what does that demand of you and your life? I think the play is a really effective way to ask that question."
Kane said it's one of the most beautiful theater pieces he has ever seen, and it goes way beyond the politics of the situation.
"We got lots of laughs at the first reading," Kane said. "And people were crying at the end. We will have a video clip of Rachel to show."
He said the play, though controversial, is about an idealistic young woman who wanted to change the world.
The Corries have spoken at events throughout the country and elsewhere in the world of their daughter's story and their own experiences. They are frequent guests at post-performance discussions of the play.
Sabina Dana Plasse: firstname.lastname@example.org