Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Controversial Rachel Corrie

The title of Christine Dolen's article in the Miami Herald says it best:
Controversial play 'Rachel Corrie' opens in South Florida at last

Mosaic Theater had this play on its schedule a few years back, but was pulled after their funding - and their lease - was threatened. It would be pretty to think that in America, everyone embraces our ideals of free speech, but it's not so. There are very small-minded hateful people who are terrified that we might be exposed to ideas that contradict their own. They live in terror that we might learn that -gasp!- there might be other points of view, and that those other points of view might even have merit.

Or, they might not. But we can't decide that if we can't hear them. Our country isn't served by those who try to silence others. No one says you have to agree with others, but freedom dictates you have to let them have their say.

Dolen reports on some of the shameful behavior levied at Alliance Theatre Lab artistic director Adalberto Acevedo and actor Kim Ehly:
"Early on, I got an e-mail to my personal account saying, `You are anti-Semitic,' '' Acevedo says. ``Another nasty e-mail had a picture of my apartment complex attached to it.''

''I heard I wouldn't work again after this,'' Ehly says. 'Some people hide behind saying, `Oh, it's such a flawed script.' Why anyone would support censorship is beyond me.''

All I can say is that anyone who would exclude an actor because of a part they played in a show isn't someone who should be producing theatre. And the jerk who threatened Acevedo? They should be lumped in with all the other nutcases: the neo-nazis, the skinheads, the Ku Klux Klan, and all the rest of the hate groups.

The Alliance Theatre Lab responds to concerns that the play is pro-Palestinian, or anti-Israeli, or what have you ( and keep in mind, these charges are levied by people who have not seen a production of the play):
Let us be perfectly clear; at its heart, this play is not about the Israel/Palestine conflict. The play is also not an agitprop piece, designed to inflame or offend. It is, at its core, a play about a fiery, passionate, idealistic young woman whose pursuit of social justice runs up against the unforgiving nature of reality, a young woman whose sense of ethics allows no compromise or rationalization. It is also the words of one human being, words that do not pretend to offer a balance or "opposing viewpoint."

The play is also neither a screed nor a diatribe. Rachel is by turns defiant and whimsical, highly intelligent and yet at times unsure of herself. She is, to put it succinctly, a human being, with ideals we can admire and foibles we can mourn. Because the writings are taken from different points in her life, we can follow Rachel on her journey of social activism. We can rejoice in her victories, and we can wince at her mistakes. She is, like all of us, gloriously and beautifully flawed.

There have been many articles, pamphlets, leaflets, posters, and speeches written about Rachel and the play which speaks with her voice. But the one thing we cannot forget is that she was a human being, and this is something that is often lost in the arguments and jeremiads which usually accompany performances of this play.

Every human has a voice. Every voice deserves to be heard. One may find that voice disturbing or uplifting, uncomfortable or enriching. But that voice - and every voice - must be heard.

We are proud to give attention to the voice of Rachel Corrie.
Christine's article ends with a quote from Mosaic Theatre's artistic director, Richard Jay Simon:
''I'm glad it's being done and am looking forward to seeing their production,'' Simon says. "I wish them much success with it.''
Whatever your views are on the issues of Palestine or Israel, you should see this play. Gain an insight into someone who was so passionate about her views that she let a bulldozer run her down as she stood for her beliefs.


  1. This is much ado about a handful of emails. I have received many emails and letters complaining about violence, nudity, etc. through the years. So what? As Adalberto says in the article, "I have very little to lose."

    And do you REALLY believe that any Artistic Director in South Florida would blacklist an actress for appearing in this play?

    Joe Adler
    ("the Stubborn Filcher")

  2. No, of course I don't believe any artistic director would blacklist an actor for appearing in this play; but producers? C'mon, you know that there are producers out there who aren't quite...level-headed.

    And I know you've had your share of hate mail: I remember that you took a stand against Dade County's ban on Cuban artists - and won. You're aces in my book, even when I think you're filching stuff. Which you weren't.

  3. Chris,

    Thanks for this support. We've actually received a bit of negativity from people in the theatre community for doing this show, which saddens and infuriates me; if you're for one form of censorship, you're for all of them. So thank you for your kind words and your moral support. I hope to see you at the show!