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2006-03-22

"My Name is Rachel Corrie"–A Debate Over Why the Play is Not Opening in New York

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"My Name is Rachel Corrie"–a play based on the words of the American peace activist crushed to death three years ago by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza–is causing controversy after the New York City theater that was scheduled to run it postponed production. We host a discussion with Katharine Viner, the editor of the play in London and James Nicola and Lynn Moffat, the two top directors of the New York Theatre Workshop. [includes rush transcript]

We turn now to the controversy over the play "My Name is Rachel Corrie," which is based on the words of the late U.S. peace activist.

Three years ago this month Corrie died at the age of 23 after she was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer. At the time Corrie was attempting to block the demolition of the home of a Palestinian doctor in the Gaza town of Rafah.

The play opened last year in London to rave reviews and sold out audiences. It was scheduled to come to New York and open tonight at the celebrated off-Broadway New York Theatre Workshop.

But there will be no opening night.

In late February, the theater announced it was indefinitely postponing production of the play due to the current political climate.

The theater’s artistic director James Nicola told the Guardian of London: "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." Nicola went on to say, "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."

But the theater has been accused of political censorship. The co-creator of the play, Alan Rickman responded by saying, "This is censorship born out of fear" and that the theater had effectively canceled the play.

Today, in a broadcast exclusive, we host a discussion between one of the creators of "My Name is Rachel Corrie" and the New York theater group that postponed the production of the play.

In London we are joined by Katharine Viner, the co-editor and co-producer of "My Name is Rachel Corrie." She is an editor at the Guardian newspaper in London. Here in our New York studio we are joined by James Nicola, the artistic director at the New York Theatre Workshop as well as the theater’s managing director Lynn Moffat.

  • Katharine Viner, the co-editor and co-producer of "My Name is Rachel Corrie." She is an editor at the Guardian newspaper in London.
    - Read Viner’s article: "A Message Crushed Again"
  • James Nicola, artistic director at the New York Theatre Workshop.
  • Lynn Moffat, managing director of the New York Theatre Workshop.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Today, in a Democracy Now! broadcast exclusive, we host a discussion between one of the creators of the play, My Name is Rachel Corrie and the New York theater group that postponed the production of the play. In London, we’re joined by Katharine Viner. She’s the co-editor and co-producer of My Name is Rachel Corrie. She’s editor at the Guardian newspaper in London. Here in our New York studio, we’re joined by James Nicola. He is the artistic director at the New York Theatre Workshop, as well as the theater’s managing director, Lynn Moffat. And we welcome you all to Democracy Now!

Well, why don’t we begin with you, Jim Nicola, about this play, about My Name Is Rachel Corrie, about its plans for production, opening night tonight, and why it was cancelled or indefinitely postponed?

JAMES NICOLA: Sure. Well, I would want to go back a little bit to my original reading of the play, which was inspiring and moving, and I really connected to what Katharine Viner and Alan Rickman were trying to do in their portrait, which, in any artist who is approaching a character or subject, shapes the material into something. And they said, as in Katharine said, what did she want people to feel or think about when they walk out of the play; she said to feel inspired to go out and do something about the world’s inequalities. And I thought that was an excellent thing to put forward in New York.

All of us Americans, myself included, live in some sort of fog of avoidance and denial, and here was a beautiful example of someone who pierced through that and did something and made a commitment. I also thought a lot about my nieces and nephews who are roughly her age now, and I see how they’re living, and I thought she would be a wonderful example to them, to all of us. But this portrait that they wanted to create was about — they had a very particular view, which I really supported and believed in, which is the example she set with her life. And they wanted to keep at bay, for the sake of this argument, this portrait, many — anybody who would walk in with any particular idea or bias or view and say, just for the sake of this argument, 'Look at this beautiful act of commitment and courage and idealism, and let's hold our thoughts and just study that example.’ And that was what we were trying to fight for. And on this very short time frame that we had to mount this, we didn’t realize at the beginning the complexity of that task.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, before we talk about the controversy over the staging of this and what happened, let’s turn to Katharine Viner, co-editor and co-producer of My Name is Rachel Corrie, and start at the beginning. Tell us about this play, how you came to edit it, and why we call you co-editor, as opposed to playwright.

KATHARINE VINER: Right. Well, it all began just after Rachel was killed. Her family released lots of her emails home from Gaza, and they were published around the world, including in the Guardian, which is the newspaper I work for in London. And they were astounding. They were so powerful and evocative and moving. And Alan Rickman, the Hollywood actor, he saw them and got very excited and took them to the Royal Court Theatre and said these should make a play. These are fantastic. And I was asked to get involved at that point. And we approached Rachel’s family to ask for permission, and obviously that was a very hard time for them. And they said, "You know, we love theater, but, you know, give us some time. We need to think about this." And then, I think it was about a year later, they came back to us.

And in that meantime, we had been really thinking about how we could do this. We were thinking of doing a patchwork of voices, voices from Rachel’s friends in Olympia, Washington, which is where she was from, her friends in Gaza, fellow activists, Israeli soldiers. We were imagining sort of creating a whole patchwork of a play. But then, suddenly there landed on our doorstep 184 pages of Rachel’s words, and her family had gone and discovered all these journals that she had left behind in her bedroom, and they had typed them up for us, which was a real emotional task, as you can imagine. And they were her journals from the age of ten.

And you can imagine, we were so excited about this, and we realized that we didn’t need to be playwrights. We just needed to edit Rachel’s words, that Rachel could tell her story all on her own. And so then, the patchwork was just moving around Rachel’s words, timings. And, in fact, the first third of the play is before she even goes to Gaza, and it’s her packing in her bedroom, finding old journals, telling stories about bumping into ex-boyfriends or her job or female friends or just being an ordinary teenager, before she made the big decision to go to Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, you staged this at the Royal Court Theatre in London?

KATHARINE VINER: That’s right, yes. Now, we staged it in April last year and, in fact, it was sort of this huge success immediately. We were very shocked, because obviously it was a small play about, you know — and a political play. I mean, there was a trend for political theater in London at the moment, but we hadn’t realized quite how successful it would be. And, in fact, the Royal Court said it was their fastest sellout in their 50-year history. And this is the theater — Look Back in Anger–their biggest sellout in their 50-year history, which is fantastic. And there were lines of people waiting outside the theater every night for returns. So, we quickly brought it back to a larger theater, also at the Royal Court, which was also a sellout. And next week, in fact, when the New York transfer was canceled, a West End producer stepped in, and now the play is transferring to the West End next week. The West End is the equivalent of Broadway. So, we’re hoping it’s going to be a major commercial success, as well as a major artistic success.

AMY GOODMAN: So, now let’s go to what happened in New York. The play was presented to the New York Theatre Workshop. You read it, Jim. You loved it. You said, ’Let’s go with it.’

JAMES NICOLA: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: And the schedule was set. Then what happened?

JAMES NICOLA: Well, we started onto our usual process of how do you make the pathway for a writer’s voice, you know, publicly, from — it goes from the page to the stage, and then you have to bring people to it. And I took very seriously this desire of Katharine Viner and Alan Rickman to find this place where people could feel safe and free to suspend their points of view, to listen to Rachel and to look at Rachel in this particular way. And then — certainly I am more educated now on this whole conflict than I was at the start of it. And, in fact, I look back six, eight weeks, and I feel like I’m a different person. But as we started to learn and listen, that task just seemed to get bigger and more complicated. In addition to other production logistical questions because of the short timeframe, were also growing concerns. So — we — maybe, Lynn, you might want to talk a little about that.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, before, Lynn, you speak, we’re going to go to break, and then we’ll come back to this discussion. We’re talking about the controversy over the play, My Name is Rachel Corrie, that was supposed to open in New York tonight. Our guests are Jim Nicola and Lynn Moffat. They are the two directors of the New York Theatre Workshop, and in London, we’re joined by Katharine Viner, the co-editor and co-producer of the play that is now in London.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: There’s a letter today in The New York Times. It’s written by Harold Pinter, who is the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, Gillian Slovo, Stephen Fry, and it’s dated March 20. The letter was signed by 18 others, and it says, "We are Jewish writers who supported the Royal Court production of My Name Is Rachel Corrie. We are dismayed by the decision of the New York Theatre Workshop to cancel or postpone the play’s production. We believe that this is an important play, particularly, perhaps, for an American audience that too rarely has an opportunity to see and judge for itself the material it contends with.

"In London it played to sell-out houses. Critics praised it. Audiences found it intensely moving. So what is it about Rachel Corrie’s writings, her thoughts, her feelings, her confusions, her idealism, her courage, her search for meaning in life — what is it that New York audiences must be protected from?"

The letter goes on to say, "The various reasons given by the workshop — Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s coma, the election of Hamas, the circumstances of Rachel Corrie’s death, the 'symbolism' of her tale — make no sense in the context of this play and the crucial issues it raises about Israeli military activity in the Occupied Territories."

And the final line of the letter says, "Rachel Corrie gave her life standing up against injustice. A theater with such a fine history should have had the courage to give New York theatergoers the chance to experience her story for themselves." Signed Gillian Slovo, Harold Pinter, Stephen Fry, London, March 20, 2006. Harold Pinter this year won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Our guests, Lynn Moffat is managing director of the New York Theatre Workshop, in our studio with Jim Nicola, artistic director; and in the London studio, Katharine Viner, co-editor and co-producer of My Name is Rachel Corrie. Lynn Moffat, your response to the letter?

LYNN MOFFAT: To the letter? It’s a beautiful letter. It actually addresses the issues that we were concerned about. We believe in Rachel’s voice, as they believe in Rachel’s voice. We want it heard by a New York audience, but we want the voice heard by the New York audience, not the ancillary events that can pollute that voice. So that is the purpose of the methodology that New York Theatre Workshop employs when it uses — when it develops context for a play. I know "context" has become a much maligned word in the last few weeks, but that is what we do, because ultimately the purpose of the workshop in producing art is to foster community dialogue, and to do that requires a lot of work just beyond the play that is seen on stage.

AMY GOODMAN: But now, you did agree to produce the play, and it was going to have its opening night tonight?

LYNN MOFFAT: And we still want to produce the play.

JAMES NICOLA: Yep.

LYNN MOFFAT: We still want to produce the play, and the word "indefinite," we don’t know where that word came from. We really — and we never canceled the play. We were having a conversation with our colleagues at the Royal Court about the difficulties that we were having, not only just with the research that we were doing about the project and about the play, but also about, you know, contracts and budgets and fundraising, and all that sort of stuff.

JAMES NICOLA: Visas.

LYNN MOFFAT: Visas. We were having a conversation with them, and then Katharine’s letter appeared in the Guardian.

AMY GOODMAN: Katharine Viner, your response.

KATHARINE VINER: Yeah. I mean, I’m actually not a co-producer of the play. I was just the co-editor, so — but as I understand it, we had everything set. Our tickets — our flight tickets were booked. I was due to fly out yesterday to New York. The production schedule was finalized. Both sides of the Atlantic had agreed on a press release that was going to go out to the press, announcing the production of My Name is Rachel Corrie, and then the Royal Court, as I was told, received a telephone call saying that the play was to be postponed indefinitely. That’s where the phrase came from. We said we regarded that as a cancellation, because everything was ready, and there were barely — I think it was five or six weeks to go. And then they asked us, the New York Theatre Workshop asked the Royal Court to give them time in order to work out how to present this "postponement," as they called it — "cancellation," as we took it to be — and we gave them that time.

But then Mr. Nicola started talking, saying that it was a tentative arrangement. He started giving quotes, saying it was actually a tentative arrangement, and we felt at that point that we had to go public with the story, because it was not a tentative arrangement. This was a definite arrangement. But, you know, I don’t think — I think we could get into the, you know, "You emailed on this day, you telephoned on this day" conversation, but actually there’s a much bigger picture here and a much more important story, which is about the political smearing of Rachel Corrie, and there’s no doubt that the New York Theatre Workshop was the victim of a political smear campaign.

And I could have — you know, I understand this about contextualization. I personally think that works of art should be able to stand on their own, and consultation isn’t necessary. However, if that’s how things are done in New York, then I understand why, you know, say, Jewish community groups may have been contacted. I don’t quite understand why Arab American groups weren’t contacted, and I also don’t understand why I wasn’t consulted. You know, I was brought in to do this play, because I understood the political context, and I know about narrative, but also mainly because I understand about the political context, and I could have warned the New York Theatre Workshop all about the misinformation there is about Rachel Corrie on the internet. I could have told them why — I understand why that happens. She’s a very powerful figure, and I could have helped them.

AMY GOODMAN: Your response.

JAMES NICOLA: Well, it’s deeply regrettable. I would have loved to have been consulting with Katharine. It would have been immensely helpful, but in the time frame that we were on, I had various phone calls with Diane Borger at the Royal Court, two visits from Alan Rickman, and we were underway, and I felt we should consult with — and most of the people around that table, myself, Alan, were of a similar mind about issues, and it seemed the logical next step would be to speak to people who might have a different point of view, and that’s when we went and we did a lot of internet research. We saw all of what Katharine mentions about this terrible misinformation out there, which made me only more certain that we had to have very strong plans to neutralize that or make it go away or answer a question when it was posed.

AMY GOODMAN: And what do you mean by contextualization? You would present the play, and then what?

JAMES NICOLA: Well, we were discussing the idea of, after every performance, having — giving the audience an opportunity to discuss what they had just experienced.

LYNN MOFFAT: In a very structured format.

JAMES NICOLA: Right.

LYNN MOFFAT: We don’t just have post-performance discussions, where audience members just simply react to the play. We actually were talking about bringing in scholars, bringing in various voices from the communities, and having very structured discussions that would not — that would help people understand the complexities of the situation. Rachel’s voice is very clear. There is no question about that, but it sits in a larger world.

AMY GOODMAN: And that larger world is?

LYNN MOFFAT: That larger world is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. There’s no question about that.

AMY GOODMAN: Katharine Viner?

KATHARINE VINER: It’s almost as if you’re suggesting that people need to, you know, read the full history of Israel from 1948 to the present day before they are even allowed to see this play. It’s a work of art that can stand on its own and, you know, can I ask you who you consulted before canceling the play?

LYNN MOFFAT: It was a lot of different people from — that were colleagues and colleagues of colleagues who we consulted, but I do want to say that the Royal Court did an absolutely brilliant job of contextualizing the play, including giving that history from 1948 of the conflict through its Young Writers Program. We were, at the workshop, very impressed with the work that the — that our colleagues at the Royal Court had done.

KATHARINE VINER: Thank you very much.

AMY GOODMAN: Who — on that question of who you consulted, The Nation magazine’s cover story is about tickets too not handle, and it talks about a P.R. firm, consulting firm, Finn Ruder, saying they were involved in advising you against this play. Is this true?

LYNN MOFFAT: We used a lot of consultants. I mean, not-for-profits have to, because we don’t have the money to keep such expertise on staff. I mean, it includes legal, accounting, advertising, marketing, press, P.R. There’s a lot that we — we need these people; we rely on these people. In the case of Ruder Finn, we have been working with Ruder Finn for over ten years, and we are working with them on a project, but it is not related to the play.

AMY GOODMAN: And what is that project?

LYNN MOFFAT: Essentially, we’re working on a long-range plan, strategic plan for the workshop, and that’s what we’re talking to them about.

AMY GOODMAN: In this article in The Nation, they contend that Ruder Finn said that they would not represent you if you went ahead with this play.

LYNN MOFFAT: That’s not true.

AMY GOODMAN: And they also say that Ruder Finn was involved with representing the state of Israel in the past.

LYNN MOFFAT: That, I don’t know about, but I would say — I would just say that it was a mischaracterization.

AMY GOODMAN: So they would continue to represent you if you went ahead with this play.

LYNN MOFFAT: Oh, yeah. I believe so.

AMY GOODMAN: Were they polling community groups —

LYNN MOFFAT: No.

AMY GOODMAN: — or were they, quote, I guess the term has been used, "auditing," getting a sense of the community for you, of how people would respond?

LYNN MOFFAT: No. They were not. No Jewish groups were polled. That was a word that came from the New York Times, and that got picked up around the world, as well. I mean, certain words got picked up: "censorship," "indefinite," "polling." These are words that have — that we’re sorry got picked up, and that were — essentially were never questioned and just repeated over and over again.

AMY GOODMAN: Since you had agreed to go ahead with the play, and it was going to open tonight, at what point did you change? What was the, not particularly the date, but the reason where you said, "We’re pulling it for now"?

LYNN MOFFAT: There were several. Jim came to his conclusion, and I came to my conclusion that we needed to ask for a postponement. We needed more time for different reasons. It wasn’t simply the contextualization. I was also very, very concerned, as the managing director, about the business deal. It hadn’t been completed, and that is a — I mean, you know, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: But you were — but the tickets were up on Telecharge, and you were moving forward tonight.

LYNN MOFFAT: Well, that, you know — that’s sort of just, you know, that’s sort of theater business. You can put tickets up on — we weren’t — they weren’t on sale. The computer program had been built. Drafts were going. We were trying to get a lot of work accomplished in a very short period of time, so I had all the — I didn’t go a, b, c, d. I just said, "Everybody, just do your jobs, and lets try to get this done." We really moved forward with the best intent.

AMY GOODMAN: Did the mayor’s office weigh in, Mayor Bloomberg of New York City? Was there any involvement?

LYNN MOFFAT: No. No.

AMY GOODMAN: No discussions with his office?

LYNN MOFFAT: No, none.

AMY GOODMAN: That was something that was also raised in the Nation piece.

LYNN MOFFAT: Right. No, none.

AMY GOODMAN: His Office of Cultural Affairs?

LYNN MOFFAT: No.

JAMES NICOLA: No. Not that I’m aware of.

AMY GOODMAN: Has this happened to you before, where you set a play, you set a schedule, you say what the opening night is, the tickets say they are going to go on — the Telecharge says they’ve got the tickets, and then it’s pulled?

JAMES NICOLA: Yes.

LYNN MOFFAT: I would say — well, pulled is a rough word, but I would say that 50% of the productions that we schedule do not happen in the schedule that we had originally intended. That’s a lot. That’s half.

KATHARINE VINER: But with six weeks notice, Lynn?

LYNN MOFFAT: Yes, with six weeks notice. Well, I mean, Katharine, you have to remember, you know, Rachel Corrie wasn’t coming into an empty spot in the theater. There had been another artist booked there, and we had come to an agreement with him to —

JAMES NICOLA: Move him.

LYNN MOFFAT: — move him, move his show into the next season, so we could do Rachel Corrie.

KATHARINE VINER: So, if this was just about theatrical logistics, why then, in your first interview, did you say it was because of the election of Hamas in the Palestinian elections and Ariel Sharon’s ill health?

JAMES NICOLA: It was a part — it was — I regret that I was naive in talking to the press at that point. It was a part of something, and there was a much bigger picture, and that was sort of pulled out. So I have to take some responsibility for being an imprecise speaker.

AMY GOODMAN: But at a time you were concerned about these political developments?

JAMES NICOLA: Yes. I was concerned about: How do we keep focus on this thing that we all agree is the center, this idealistic, inspiring example?

AMY GOODMAN: Now, of course, the Middle East is mired in controversy and has been for many, many years. Why is this different right now?

LYNN MOFFAT: I think we weren’t cognizant of how Rachel was being viewed on all sides of the spectrum, and that is something that we were learning as we went through this process.

AMY GOODMAN: What is it that you heard about Rachel Corrie that was a different picture than you had than was presented in the play with just her own words, My Name is Rachel Corrie?

JAMES NICOLA: Well, I can speak to one very terrifying, I guess, conversation I had with a very good friend, who is Jewish, and certainly every conversation I’ve ever had with him about Israel, he’s been extremely critical of policy and action, and I gave him this play, and he read it, and he was really — he had real problems with it, and I was really surprised to hear it from him, and I was really surprised because I had such a love for this play and this young woman, that it hurt me that there would be a question of it. And he said to me, "Did you know she was member of Hamas?" And I didn’t know what that — I hadn’t heard that, and it didn’t seem to be true to me, and I said, "No." And he said, "Well, it’s on the internet that she was." And in that moment I realized, well, there’s a lot — because in my position, I have to try and prevent that from taking hold. I have to be able to answer that question, and then as we went on to the internet, there was much more that, you know, [inaudible].

KATHARINE VINER: You’ll never be able to get at the truth on the internet.

LYNN MOFFAT: Yes, I thought the Mother Jones article was particularly intriguing, because the author of that article lays out a lot of different perspectives.

AMY GOODMAN: Newsweek reporter Joshua Hammer.

LYNN MOFFAT: Yes. It was really fascinating.

AMY GOODMAN: Katharine Viner.

LYNN MOFFAT: But this is all part of a really big smear campaign against Rachel Corrie and against many — as happens with many activists, and I can sort of see why. You know, she was the first American citizen, perhaps the only American citizen — I don’t know — but to be killed by the Israeli army. She wrote so powerfully and so brilliantly about life under occupation, which is terrifying to hear if it’s not something you hear very often, but also, you know, she’s young, beautiful, blond, white, American. She’s completely easy to relate to for a vast majority of Americans, and that makes her very dangerous, and that’s why there’s been so much misinformation about her on the internet and elsewhere. But again, I would have loved to have helped you with that. I knew about all of that. I’m one of the people who has read every single word that Rachel wrote, and I’ve read a huge amount of what’s been written about her, and I can see the gap between the two, and surely one has to go for the truth rather than these kind of myths that surround people who are dangerous.

LYNN MOFFAT: Right.

JAMES NICOLA: Absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: Jim, let me ask something. So this one conversation with a friend who alleged that Rachel was a member of Hamas turned this whole play around and led to the postponement of it?

JAMES NICOLA: No. It was the beginning of the dawning of the scale of this task in the — and then in the sense of four weeks before a proposed first performance that I had a lot of learning to do. We had a lot of planning and plotting and strategizing to do to make this happen.

AMY GOODMAN: Did you also consult with members of the Palestinian community in New York or the Arab American community?

JAMES NICOLA: We did not at that point, because we were at the beginning of this. We certainly would have, and we were certainly looking on the internet, and frankly, because we were at the beginning of this, as I said earlier, the people that were sitting around the table in this conversation were of a particular mind. We were of a similar point of view.

LYNN MOFFAT: I’d also like to point out, though, sitting around that table were Americans and British and Rachel’s voice, which is, as you’ve said, Katharine, American. We had no Palestinian voices yet, and that was one of the reasons we needed more time was because we needed to explore all of the voices that were coming out of that community, and that takes time.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, the play is only her words.

JAMES NICOLA: Yes.

LYNN MOFFAT: Only her words. It is a beautifully crafted piece of theater.

AMY GOODMAN: So where do you go from here? Are you sorry you put this off?

LYNN MOFFAT: No. I’m not sorry. I think we did the responsible thing. We did the responsible thing for the play.

JAMES NICOLA: You know, I would still love to see it happen. I would really love to see it happen. I so believe in this voice and the importance of this voice being heard now here.

AMY GOODMAN: Tony Kushner also condemned the postponement of the play, whose play you had produced on Afghanistan, on Kabul. Your response to that.

JAMES NICOLA: Well, I think, you know, everyone should have a point of view, and I’m glad, in a certain way, that he has taken that stand, because I think it starts to provoke an important dialogue in our community about how do we talk about difficult, complicated issues and ideas. And I hope this is leading to that kind of conversation.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to play a clip of Vanessa Redgrave. We were in London, and we spoke to her, and Vanessa Redgrave, of course, was involved in supporting the Royal Court Theatre production, and this is what she had to say.

VANESSA REDGRAVE: The essence of life and the essence of theater is to communicate about lives, either lives that had ended or lives that are still alive, beliefs, what is in those beliefs, and this was an extraordinary young girl. It wasn’t — she didn’t take sides, although she went to defend Palestinians. It isn’t about taking sides. It’s about defending human life. That’s the basis of all human rights. That’s the basis of what every country proclaims it stands for.

I don’t know of a single government that actually abides by international human rights law, not one, including my own. In fact, violate these laws in the most despicable and obscene way, I would say. But to cancel a play, and it wasn’t really a play, to cancel a voice, because it was her voice, is an act of such catastrophic cowardice, because we are living in times when people are quite fearful enough about speaking out, for losing their career or, you know, whatever, and I think it’s — people in the theater, in film, radio, television, dance, music, we have to do what we must do.

AMY GOODMAN: Vanessa Redgrave, speaking at her home in London. Your response, Jim Nicola.

JAMES NICOLA: Well, I would just repeat, we did not cancel the play. We asked for more time to do our job as we understood it to make this voice ring out loud and clear, and I think that’s, you know, at some point everyone has to make a personal decision about when they are going to fight a battle, when they are going to take it on, how they are going to take it on, are they fully prepared to fight that battle.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you have a date set for when you’ve offered the Royal Court Theatre to —

JAMES NICOLA: We do not — we have not had any communication with the Royal Court, so there is no — and we do not have the rights. They have the rights.

AMY GOODMAN: And are you offering them that you would?

JAMES NICOLA: Yes.

LYNN MOFFAT: We have. We have offered that.

AMY GOODMAN: And when is your proposal for doing it?

LYNN MOFFAT: They have the rights. That would be a conversation that they would now have to come back to us and have that conversation.

JAMES NICOLA: The problem with this is that we have artists who are of, you know, high, high quality with huge, busy lives, and finding time when the theater is free and when they are free is a —

AMY GOODMAN: Would you say it would be within this year?

LYNN MOFFAT: We would like to.

JAMES NICOLA: Sure. Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you now are making the offer you would do it at any point from now on?

JAMES NICOLA: Well, we —

LYNN MOFFAT: We —- that’s basically -—

JAMES NICOLA: We have other commitments, but we have empty slots.

LYNN MOFFAT: And we — that’s basically the conversation we were having with the Royal Court. Can we move this to a time that gives us a little more room to do all of the work that has to get done? And can we find a time that is good for Alan, that is good for Megan Dodds, the actress?

AMY GOODMAN: And if the politics changed in the Middle East, would that affect your schedule?

JAMES NICOLA: No.

LYNN MOFFAT: No.

AMY GOODMAN: Although —

KATHARINE VINER: Amy, if I could come in here.

AMY GOODMAN: Katharine Viner?

KATHARINE VINER: Yeah, I’m afraid to say, I think that there’s just been such a breakdown of trust with what’s happened that I don’t think that the Royal Court, and I certainly don’t think Rachel’s family, would be keen on the play coming to the New York Theatre Workshop. However, the theater has been inundated with requests from other theaters throughout America and many theaters in New York, and we really do hope we will come to New York this year.

AMY GOODMAN: Have you been inundated with response? Is this the biggest response you have got on the anything you have ever done, is canceling or postponing in play?

LYNN MOFFAT: We had a huge response when we proceeded with Tony Kushner’s Homebody/Kabul right after 9/11.

AMY GOODMAN: And now, he’s condemned your decision not to do this.

LYNN MOFFAT: Well, I’m not sure that I would characterize it as "condemned." I mean, Tony is a brilliant man, and he speaks —- he hasn’t simply condemned the decision. We’ve had several conversations with Tony. One of the reasons we were able to proceed with Homebody/Kabul after 9/11 was because we had done an extraordinary amount of research prior to 9/11, so that when the world changed -—

JAMES NICOLA: We were able to proceed.

LYNN MOFFAT: — we were able to proceed, but we had had about six months prior to 9/11.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much for being with us. We’ll find out what Rachel’s parents think, because they will join us in our next segment. We’ll be joined by Cindy and Craig Corrie. I want to thank you both for being with us, Jim Nicola and Lynn Moffat of the New York Theatre Workshop, and Katharine Viner, who is the co-editor of My Name is Rachel Corrie, speaking to us from London, where the play is now showing. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. We’ll be back with Rachel’s parents in a minute.

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