The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Corries deliver daughter’s message of hope

RachelCarrie_JSJEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photo

Adrian Pijoan, Badger Herald, Mar 7, 2008

Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old American peace activist, was killed in 2003 while volunteering for the International Solidarity Movement in the Gaza Strip. Corrie was fatally injured while attempting to prevent an Israeli military bulldozer from demolishing a Palestinian home in the city of Rafah. While the Israeli government claims the bulldozer was not the cause of the young activist’s death, seven international eyewitnesses and the U.S. State Department maintain Corrie was crushed to death by the bulldozer even though she was wearing a bright orange vest and in plain view of the driver. Tonight, a play based on her life and writings, My Name is Rachel Corrie, opens at the Orpheum Theatre.

Before the play opened, Corrie’s parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie, spoke with The Badger Herald, and they expressed their hope that people will realize that this play is fundamentally the story of the life of an American girl, albeit one who had a long-term interest in marginalized peoples.

“It’s not just 90 minutes of diatribe about what she’s seeing in Gaza,” Craig Corrie said. “Some of it’s very funny. People don’t realize that. It’s sort of about a kid. There’s a lot to it.”

After Corrie passed away, her parents felt it was necessary to deliver the story of her life to the public. The Royal Court Theatre in London, intending to produce a play, requested access to Corrie’s writings and received them near the end of 2004.

My Name is Rachel Corrie was produced by Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner, but the script was taken almost entirely from Corrie’s writings, as the producers felt that the 184 pages of letters, e-mails and journal entries they had received spoke for themselves. Rachel’s parents said they admire the work and feel it represents their daughter’s wishes.

“One of the things we’d like to say about the play is that we didn’t have any expectations really,” Cindy Corrie said. “Nobody even really said it would be a play. What evolved was something there was no way we could have anticipated.”

In conjunction with the Madison performances, an Arabic version of the play will open in Haifa March 16, the fifth anniversary of Rachel’s death. The production will then travel to a number of other cities in Israel and then to Ramallah in the West Bank. The Corries are traveling to Israel for the performances and look forward to hearing their daughter’s words read in classical Arabic.

When the production first attempted to run in New York in March of 2006 though, it was cancelled due to concerns over its controversial subject. But Rachel Corrie couldn’t be kept out of New York, as more than 1,000 people assembled at the Riverside Church in Manhattan to read from her writings at an event called Rachel’s Words, March 22, 2006.

“Even within a few weeks’ time Rachel’s words showed up in New York City,” Cindy Corrie said.

My Name is Rachel Corrie has run in multiple countries and has been translated into a number of languages including Spanish, Greek and Arabic. It has met with positive reviews and sold-out shows and has encouraged discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the cities in which is has run.

Still, audiences around the world continue to appreciate Corrie’s message.

“People like Rachel,” Craig Corrie said. “They identify with her and think ‘I could help other people,’ which is a strong message.”

My Name is Rachel Corrie will run tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at the Orpheum Theater. Admission is $5. The play will have a second run at the Overture Center for the Arts March 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m. with a requested donation.