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European-American Topics - Culture - Rachel Corrie

Controversial play opens at the Seattle Rep.
My name is Rachel Corrie
Now playing at the Seattle Repertory Theatre

By Denise Gibbs, contributing writer
Posted March 22, 2007

Marya Sea Kaminski as Rachel Corrie in My Name is Rachel Corrie at Seattle Repertory Theatre, playing on the Leo K stage through April 22. Photo copyright Chris Bennion

    Amidst gunfire and liberal politics My Name is Rachel Corrie is a powerful retelling of a controversial young woman’s life from Olympia, WA  who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003. Now playing at the Seattle Repertory’s Leo K. Theatre until April 22, the story of why Corrie was in the war torn Mid-East and the motives that brought her there are not only controversial but personal.

    My Name is Rachel Corrie was co-written by British actor Alan Rickman and London’s newspaper magazine editor of the year, Katharine Viner. First time director at the Seattle Repertory, Braden Abraham, did a fabulous job of combining talent, costume, lighting, sound and design to make a thoroughly entertaining experience. The play opens to a college bedroom of sorts on a concrete slab on stage with sturdy bullet ridden walls impressively designed by stand out Jennifer Zeyl. 

    Marya Sea Kaminski, recently awarded “Best Performing Artist” by Seattle Weekly stars as Rachel Corrie and delivers an outstanding and high energy performance.

    Looking past the political nature of the play it is a universal story of a young woman growing up and feeling the pressures of adulthood and the weight of the world’s problems. Compiled from Corrie’s journals and emails, Rickman and Viner do an admirable job of showing an idealistic youth with the same dreams and aspirations of most; wanting to change the world into a better place. She loses some of that idealism when faced with the harsh realities she puts herself into. Though what makes Corrie’s story unique compared to others? Her unusual surroundings, her liberal upbringing or her radical education? The play tries to answer that question but misses its mark.

    Viewing her life through rose-colored glasses made it seem like a fairy tale. If you are convinced that Corrie was a martyr, than you might thoroughly enjoy this show. But if you think world events don’t singularly depend on one person you may be upset by what is left out since this telling of her life is based on factual events. Not hearing the other side leaves the story somewhat lacking.

    Many times during the performance it was heart-breaking to hear of her discovery of valuing relationships, service and love while dodging bullets and being a human shield. You sympathize that such a bright and promising young woman’s life was snuffed out so early. Though her martyrdom to nonviolent resistance to stop the demolition of Palestinian homes and wells is well celebrated, you can not dismiss the claims that the organization she was working for may have willingly helped Palestinian terrorists smuggle weapons into the area which may have later been used to kill Israeli civilians including children.

The show does not claim to know the answers to this ancient war between Arabs and Jews but it makes you question how much or how little involvement international citizens should have in this conflict. Using your body as a human shield is controversial enough but how much more controversial is the education and so-called indoctrination that teaches young people to do such an act willingly to promote an idea or organization. These are the underlying themes of the play and being well informed actually helps you to enjoy the performance even more so as not to get caught up the political nature of it but to enjoy the staging and outstanding performance of this one woman show.


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