Saturday, April 29, 2006

Rachel Corrie Remix

I was going to delve into the workings of postmodernism, but I thought better of it.

There is something else on my mind.

For all of my Americans, I know I promised to revisit the phenomenon that is My Name is Rachel Corrie; forgive me, I've been busy sorting out my own thoughts about the matter. We're putting the weight of the world, or at least an industry on this play right now, and so few have actually seen it or read it. Of course that doesn't mean we all can't dialogue on its aftermath; undeniably, it is showing us certain aspects of ourselves that were difficult to articulate without a major incident to highlight their existence.

So the production? Intimate, faceted, careful, but full of life--the kind of spark that makes Rachel Corrie herself play-worthy. Incredibly humbling. Immediate. Fierce at times, introspective at others. This is a portrait of a girl, just a girl...and yet it somehow connects us internationally. There is an undeniable power here. And whether it made you feel (as with me), or just think, then it has served its purpose. I won't apologize for understanding it from my perspective: that of a girl, about the same age, away from home and trying to find her place in the world. If that makes me naive and simplistic, I don't care.

This is a performance of someone's words. Obviously this is not Rachel Corrie herself reading the words. We can't forget that. Placing the subject matter onstage filters it through a particular lens. There are certainly details that aren't included onstage--who hasn't seen those pictures of a wild-eyed Rachel burning an American flag?--but that should go without saying. These are her words. One version of events. Those who attack it as not really being a play may be unfamiliar with the workings of the form; documentary theatre operate under a different set of rules than your standard naturalism, and it all the better for it.

If you hate it, find it banal and capitalistic, then hate it fully, protest it, but don't protest if for more than what it is. Don't invest this play with characteristics it lacks. I'll agree that it's time to put an period on this chapter and hopefully use it to move forward to something greater. The response to it has been undeniable, and we can't just dismiss such a large shuffle in our theatrical atmosphere as some giant mistake.

This is all very strange for me, as I've been fortunate enough to approach it from the British angle, where very few I've spoken with have inflated the importance of this piece beyond what it was originally.

As for freespeechlover, if you're still reading, let me know what you think when you see it.


Blogger Justin Kownacki said...

Well stated. The play is a hot-button issue but the discussion OF the play seems to be drowning out the discussion ABOUT the play.

It's inevitable that a work of this controversial magnitude would incite conversation that far exceeds its own boundaries, but that process also runs the risk of turning the play into A Statement or A Stereotype. I get the impression many people would prefer to use the play's existence as a weapon to further their own ends, and the content itself is being lost in the shuffle.

Kudos for being able to address the play's place in the theatrical milieu while also addressing the merits and flaws of the play itself. What we need more of now are direct evaluations rather than chest-beating.

2:58 PM  

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