Photo: Gettyimages
Rachel Corrie. 'It's a story the public has the right to know'
Photo: Gettyimages

Culture Ministry to review Rachel Corrie play

Complaints against 'My Name is Rachel Corrie,' about an American human rights activist killed by an IDF bulldozer in Gaza in 2003, lead to reexamination of production's content.

An appeal to Culture Minister Miri Regev regarding the play "My Name is Rachel Corrie" about the life of an American human rights activist killed by an IDF bulldozer in Gaza in 2003, has led to a renewed examination of its content.



The independent production, which debuted at the Theatroneto Festival and won an award there, was presented at the Jaffa Theater on Tuesday in the presence of Culture Ministry representatives.


Jaffa Theater officials stressed that the theater was only hosting the play and that it is not a production of the theater. Nonetheless, the theater's management received an inquiry Tuesday morning from Irit Fogel, director of the Theater Department in the Ministry’s Culture Administration, about the status of the production.


"I was not told to stop the show, and they didn't even imply it, but this thought cannot escape one's mind. It's in the background," Igal Ezraty, the theater's general director, told Ynet. "What I was told is that if there will be a discussion on the play's content in the Theater Department, it should be done professionally after watching the play."


The controversial play, 'My Name is Rachel Corrie' (Photo: Merav Yudilovitch)
The controversial play, 'My Name is Rachel Corrie' (Photo: Merav Yudilovitch)

"Someone called on the culture minister to look into the play just like they did with 'A Parallel Time' at the al-Midan Theater, so the department's people were sent over. The minister, as far as I understand, has no problem with plays being presented but she won't support plays against the state.


"That's somewhat ridiculous. After all, it's a play which has been sponsored by the establishment since its very beginning: It debuted at the Theatroneto which is supported by the Culture Ministry and was later adopted by the HaZira Performance Arts Arena, which is a supported body as well. Now the play is being presented independently. Suddenly checking if it meets professional and artistic criteria is a bit odd."


Ezraty added, "We host more than 80 external plays a year, and there is no reason not to host a play which has proved itself artistically and won awards. We have faced pressure before, and I would like to believe that this time too it won't make me think twice before including plays in our program. I really hope I will have the power not to give in to self-censorship.


"I am convinced that this has crossed the mind of many institution managers. Rachel Corrie didn't murder anyone. She was run over to death, and it's a story the public has the right to know.


"Moreover, we should remember that the theater has always dealt with stories of murderers, starting from Shakespeare. It's very interesting to understand what went through the minds of Iago, Richard III, and yes, even Yigal Amir.


"If we start examining every sentence written in a play or disqualify a play and freeze funding because someone in the play calls a soldier a maniac, for example, where will we end up? What scares me is the self-censorship. It's enough for a regime to threaten to freeze budgets for people to adapt themselves consciously or unconsciously. After all, we have to pay salaries at the end of the month, and I'm afraid it will happen to me."


This isn't the first time that someone seeks to freeze an institution's funding for presenting the Rachel Corrie play. Last year, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor David Dahari demanded that the Municipality stop funding the Khan Theater after it hosted the independent production.


"This isn't the first time that the Khan, which enjoys a municipal budgets of millions of shekels, presents problematic plays which harm the city and the state in the name of art," he said at the time. His demand was rejected.


The Culture Ministry offered the following response: "The play 'My Name is Rachel Corrie' indeed debuted at the Theatroneto Festival a year and a half ago and received an award. These days, the play is occasionally hosted by an independent artist at the Jaffa Theater, which is a supported body.


"In the past few days, the Culture Ministry has received several complaints that the play allegedly includes messages of incitement and de-legitimization of the State of Israel. In order to offer a levelheaded response to the complaints, the Theater Department of the Israeli Culture and Arts Council decided to watch the play and offer its opinion on whether the complaints are justified."


פרסום ראשון: 07.02.15, 22:38
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