Entertainment

Rachel Corrie's parents say play 'humanizes' activist daughter

My Name is Rachel Corrie, a play about the American activist killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in the Gaza Strip, has just opened in Montreal with Corrie's parents in attendance.

My Name is Rachel Corrie, a play about the American activist killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in the Gaza Strip, has just opened in Montreal with Corrie's parents in attendance.

The controversial play explores Corrie's experiences in Gaza and has been lambasted by some as a naive, one-sided account of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.

Craig and Cindy Corrie say people who've never seen the play tend to be critical.

"You'll hear beforehand that it's anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. I think that's absolutely false," said Craig Corrie in an interview with CBC Radio's Q."It is a valid viewpoint of what Rachel saw and I think it's artfully put together."

Both parents were in Montreal for the play's launch at the Teesri Duniya Theatre, a co-production with Vancouver's neworldtheatre. They also participated in a panel discussion over the weekend after the play. The play had its Canadian premiere in November at Calgary's Sage Theatre.

"Most of the controversy is to either vilify Rachel or put her on a pedestal. If you come see the play, it introduces humour among other things, so it humanizes her," notes Craig Corrie.

In March 2003, Corrie was a 23-year-old human rights activist who was in the southern Gaza town of Rafahwith the International Solidarity Movement.She died after standing in front of an Israeli bulldozer that was destroying a Palestinian home. An Israeli investigation ruled the death accidental.

The play, created by British actor Alan Rickman and journalist Katherine Viner, is based on Corrie'sdiaries, letters and e-mails.

The Corries say they are satisfied with the play because it got Rachel's message out.

"I love my daughter's words," says Cindy."Rachel's e-mail had had a tremendous impact on our own family's understanding of the issue between Israel and Palestine … we needed to get her words out."

A New York theatre decided not to do the play back in the spring of 2006 after Jewish groups said it expresses anti-Israeli sentiments. Then last December, Toronto's Canadian Stage Company decided not to stage the play, citing the play'smerits and notthe controversy that dogs it.

However, the play won acclaim when it was staged in London's West End in 2005 and also when it was put on by New York's Minetta Lane Theatre, an off-Broadway production.

The Corries now run the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, which encourages and supports issues of human rights and understanding between peoples.

My Name is Rachel Corrie runs until Dec. 22 in Montreal and will be re-staged at Vancouver's Havana Theatre from Jan. 24 to Feb. 9.

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