Rachel Corrie, play, actress370.
(photo credit: Sivan Tzadok)
It was the juxtaposition of the State of Israel’s emblem and the iconic photo of
Rachel Corrie standing in front of an IDF bulldozer on the day of her death in
Gaza in 2003 that started the whole mess.
Last week, posters advertising
the performance of My Name Is Rachel Corrie were billed in Jerusalem and
immediately stirred up a public debate on the so-called “limits of free speech”
and public funding of art.
Jerusalem Deputy Mayor David Hadari demanded
that funding be stopped to the Khan Theater for hosting the show, although he
admitted that he had never read the script.
So what is the logic behind
delegitimizing the play? This is what I managed to gather from reading the
rationales of Hadari and his supporters: Enemies of Israel are by definition
anti-Semitic. The IDF kills only enemies.
Rachel Corrie was killed by the
Ergo, Rachel Corrie was an enemy and anti- Semitic; therefore, a
play in which an actress portrays her is subversive and should be
One might think, given the amount of invective and fury aimed
at the play, that my motivation to direct the piece in the first place was to
expose a dark side of Israeli society. But the truth is quite the opposite. When
Sivane Kretchner invited me to direct her in a one-woman play based on Corrie’s
diaries, I asked her two questions.
The first was why she wanted to do
this. Sivane answered naively: “I think these are important things that should
be said and heard.”
My second question was: “Are you prepared to be
slandered and smeared? Do you know what you’re getting into?” She
Both of her replies convinced me that she was perfectly cast for the
role. Kretchner and I hoped to do what theater has always done: make the
audience ask themselves questions and re-think their own lives.
is about dialogue, and in the case of a monodrama it is between a character and
its audience. But it seems that dialogue is just not what people are looking for
at the moment.
Forming an opinion of a play you have never seen or read
is a mystery to me. The discomfort caused by the very mention of Rachel Corrie’s
name reveals a sad truth – a huge part of the Israeli public is not prepared to
try and understand the motives of those who oppose its government’s
It seems that some idealistic youths from the Western world now
prefer to resist the separation barrier in Bil’in rather than volunteer on a
kibbutz, as in bygone days.
What can we make of that? It is of course
much easier to demonize Corrie instead of confronting a simple truth: It is
impossible for an impartial outsider to view the Israeli- Palestinian conflict
I believe it is the government’s duty to fund criticism – No
matter how hard it might be to hear – just as it is the the artist’s to slap the
hand that feeds him. It might also do the government some good: First, by
enhancing its democratic foundation – and just possibly by getting some good
The writer is a theater director from Haifa.