Empty Spaces to turn production into community dialogue

Empty Spaces Theatre co. is using its next production, the controversial drama My Name is Rachel Corrie, to propel a community dialogue about the issues in this play about the death of a young American woman in the Gaza Strip.

Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer while she was demonstrating for Palestinians  in 2003. Her death sparked more turmoil, and the play itself — written by actor-director Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner, based on Corrie’s writings — has proved to be wildly controversial.

Empty Spaces will present the play Feb. 24-28 and will feature talkbacks after each show. Here’s more:

John DiDonna and Seth Kubersky present the Empty Spaces Theatre Co. exploration of a controversial play

Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner’s My Name Is Rachel Corrie
Taken from the writings of Rachel Corrie
Discussion, performance, and nightly talk back forums
“Putting ‘Rachel Corrie’ into Context”

Perhaps one of the most controversial plays of the last decade, My Name is Rachel Corrie is taken from the writings and journals of Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old Evergreen State College student who traveled to the Gaza Strip in 2003. She was killed while participating in a pro-Palestinian protest demonstration that occurred on March 16, 2003, during a confrontation with a Caterpillar D9R armored bulldozer operated by the Israel Defense Forces.  The questions that surrounded her death have further fueled divisiveness and political turmoil, helping cement each side in the conflict’s inability to secure peace.

The Orlando production will feature actress Rebekah Lane as Rachel Corrie and is directed by John DiDonna and Emily Killian, with assistant direction by Alex Richmond and is produced by DiDonna/Kubersky.

Its first production at the Royal Court Theatre in London with direction by Mr. Rickman drew rave reviews (as well as garnering multiple awards and the distinction of being the fastest-selling production in the Royal Court’s history).  It has since played – oftentimes under the light of controversy –  across the United States as well as internationally in multiple nations from Ireland to Israel.

Rachel Corrie proved to be a divisive character well before the play’s first performance.  Her death caused a flurry of accusations from all sides.  To some she appears as a heroic figure fighting for the rights of a people, while others perceive her as a hateful zealot. In the light of reality, she appears to be a very hopeful yet misguided young idealist.

“It’s one person’s view of the situation … We don’t pretend that it’s the definitive story of the Middle East from 1948 to the present day. This is Rachel Corrie’s take. And I think audiences are sophisticated enough and understand that it’s one voice, and that that voice has validity.”  — Katherine Viner in an interview with Liel Liebovitch for Jewish Week, reposted 2006 by www.rachelswords.org.

The producers, feeling the weight of artistic and social responsibility, are presenting this play (which has oftentimes garnered a reputation as “one-sided”) as an event including performance and talkbacks to put the play and the events into world context – turning what is now a one-woman monologue into a full community dialogue.  Questions to be explored include (but are not limited to): What is the place of theatre in historical events? What is the obligation/responsibility of theatre to give the full story? How do we reconcile real world events with theatrical performance and “Rachel Corrie facts”?

Six performances only
Studio B, Lowndes Shakespeare Center (Loch Haven Park, Orlando – across from Orlando Museum of Art)
February 24, 25, 26, 27, 28
Evening performances on all days at 8:30 pm
Additional performance Sunday 27 at 2 pm
Monday Feb 28, industry night @ 8:30 pm

Will-call reservations (cash only at door) call 407.328.9005
For credit card reservations visit www.redchairproject.com beginning February 14

The entirety of My Name Is Rachel Corrie is privately funded as part of Empty Spaces Dangerous Plays Series:

The Dangerous Plays Series is a series of readings, workshops and productions that do not “shock” for shock value, but are works that challenge political, social, sexual, religious, or philosophical mores.  They do not necessarily reflect the personal opinions of those involved or the producers.  The mission is “Giving Breath to Dissenting Voices” – the unasked question is the only one that offers no value.

Link to information about My Name is Rachel Corrie.

5 responses to “Empty Spaces to turn production into community dialogue

  1. YAY! This is gonna be fabulous!

  2. Curious about the feedback — will the feedback comments and perceptions from each of the several performances be consolidated and released — for a given purpose to a larger audience to be determined? Should the community dialogue be limited to those present at a given performance or is there a purpose beyond that venue with value for a larger populous for the common good?

  3. Hello Mary Elizabeth!
    Always thinking.
    I hope to video tape a lot of the talk backs, and yes, it might very well be edited for say YouTube and/or website posting. The whole concept is exactly what you say “value for a larger populous for the common good”!

  4. Darlene Stewart

    This sounds like the kind of cutting edge theater we need in this town! Congratulations to the folks involved.

  5. Thank you so much Darlene. We try to bring issues and projects that interest us greatly, and hopefully they interest many others as well! Help get the word out! Last night we announced the play at a production we did for OLAFEST and had a fine reception to doing it.
    Looking forward to seeing you at the show and Community Dialogue.