There are a few misrepresentations surrounding the decision by the Seattle Repertory Theatre decision to stage My Name is Rachel Corrie and community reaction.
The SRT’s artistic freedom has never been an issue; it is a specious argument used by the SRT and its supporters to deflect genuine, valid criticism away from the decision to stage the play.
This criticism is two-fold: First, the play lacks artistic merit (an issue, incidentally, not mentioned in the article). Reviews of the play in England and in New York have variously labeled it as “Stand and Don’t Deliver” (Jeremy McCarter in New York Magazine, Oct. 30, 2006) and “dramatically flat, even listless” (Ben Brantley, The New York Times, Oct. 16, 2006). Not surprisingly, an assemblage of Rachel Corrie’s e-mails and a diary is hardly fodder for a George Bernard Shaw-caliber play.
Second, the content of the play is virulently anti-Israel and inflammatory, described variously as “unvarnished propaganda” (Clive Davis, The Times of London, Apr. 18, 2005) and “an ill-crafted piece of goopy give-peace-a-chance agitprop” (Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 21, 2006). This play is offensive to members of the community who support Israel’s struggle against Arab
terrorism, homicidal hatred, and incendiary propaganda. Furthermore, the SRT, as non-profit organization, is funded largely by the taxpayers and donors. As such, the community is fully entitled to voice its opinion over the choices that it makes.
As for the post-show SRT panels with “local community leaders” Rabbi Daniel Weiner and local activist Barbara Lahav, these folks, respectfully, hardly represent the community. Rabbi Weiner is the spiritual leader of a synagogue and Ms. Lahav is an activist in the fringe, far-left organization Brit Tzedek v’Shalom. Where on the panel are representatives of major Jewish organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League, Hadassah, and American Jewish Committee, all of which have offices right here in Seattle? Furthermore, where are those local activists, whose letters are published occasionally on these pages, who can provide a counterweight to Ms. Lahav’s views, let alone to the views of those who are unabashedly anti-Israel?
Staging My Name is Rachel Corrie will provide Seattle with an inferior cultural experience, consume resources what could have gone to staging a worthy play, and foster communal antagonism. What a shame.