My Name is Rachel Corrie, Not in New York

In The Nation, Philip Weiss examines why the play My Name Is Rachel Corrie won’t be coming to New York.

By the time I visited the Workshop, a week into the controversy, it was a wounded institution. Linda Chapman, the associate artistic director, who had signed Grote’s petition, said she couldn’t talk to me, because of the “quicksand” that any statement had become. The Workshop had posted and then removed from its website a clumsy statement aimed at explaining itself. Playgoer was demanding that the opponents of the play come forward and drumming for a declaration from Tony Kushner, who has staged plays at the Workshop, posting his photo as if he were some war criminal.

In an interview with The Nation, Kushner said that he was quiet because of his exhaustion over similar arguments surrounding the film Munich, on which he was a screenwriter, and because he kept hoping the decision would be made right. He said Nicola is a great figure in American theater: “His is one of the one or two most important theaters in this area–politically engaged, unapologetic, unafraid and formally experimental.” Never having gotten a clear answer about why Nicola put off the play, Kushner ascribes it to panic: Nicola didn’t know what he was getting into, and only later became aware of how much opposition there was to Corrie, how much confusion the right has created around the facts. Nicola felt he was taking on “a really big, scary brawl and not a play.” Still, Kushner said, the theater’s decision created a “ghastly” situation. “Censoring a play because it addresses Palestinian-Israeli issues is not in any way right,” he said.