Play shares woman’s courage

2009-10-15T18:30:00Z Play shares woman’s courageBy Nancy Raskauskas, The Entertainer Corvallis Gazette Times
October 15, 2009 6:30 pm  • 

CORVALLIS - Rachel Corrie was a young woman driven to make a positive difference in the world.

While a student at Evergreen State College in Washington state, she traveled to the war-torn Gaza Strip, a territory laid claim to by both Israel and Palestinians, to work in humanitarian aid for displaced Palestinian families.

Barely three months after arriving, she died in a standoff with a bulldozer while attempting to protect the home of a friend from demolition.

Her intriguing story has been transformed into a one-woman play written by Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner that portrays Rachel Corrie as a young woman driven to improve the world. Inspired by her story, and with permission from her family, Rickman and Viner edited Corrie's diaries, journals and e-mails to create a complicated portrait of this young woman.

"My Name is Rachel Corrie" will show at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, through Saturday, Oct. 24, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25, in the Lab Theatre of Withycombe Hall, at 35th Street and Campus Way on the Oregon State University campus. Tickets are available at the door for $2 suggested donation to the University Theatre.

The role of Rachel Corrie will be performed by Elizabeth Helman, director of the 2009 Bard in the Quad production of "Twelfth Night" and a faculty member in theater arts at OSU.

She is about the age Corrie would have been if she were alive today.

"The subject matter - it's difficult and sad because we know what happens," Helman said.

Helman said the audience members will find themselves asking what motivated her to do what she did and wondering if she knew she was going to die.

"They paint a very good portrait of a very complicated person," Helman said. "It will surely inspire a lot of heated discussions."

The play is directed by Professor Charlotte Headrick, who makes a point of bringing thought-provoking shows to campus. Over the past few years, she has played a major part in bringing stories of birth experiences, cancer survivors and marginalized voices to stages in the mid-valley. She most recently led a reading of "The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, An Epilogue" that explored the aftermath of the Matthew Shepard murder - a young gay man who was beaten and left to die - to a packed house at Withycombe Theatre on Monday, Oct. 12.

"The theater can be used for educational outreach and activism," Helman said.

The University Theatre has teamed up with The Department of Anthropology, the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Center for the Humanities to sponsor the event.

In order to explore some of the issues raised by Rachel Corrie's writings, there will be a lecture one hour before each showing in the green room of the theater, and a post-show discussion will follow each performance. Each night will feature a different topic and presenter:

• 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21: "Radical Theatre versus Theater about Radicals: Thoughts on 'My Name is Rachel Corrie'," with Theresa May, Theatre Arts, University of Oregon.

• 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22: "Student Activism and Rachel Corrie," with Steve Niva, government and international studies, Evergreen State College.

• 630 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23: "Israel, Palestine, and Rachel Corrie," with Smadar Lavie, anthropology, University of Virginia.

• 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24: "Historical Context of 'My Name is Rachel Corrie'," with Joel Beinin, history, Stanford University.

• 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25: "Continuing Rachel's Work in the Gaza Strip," with her parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie of Olympia, Wash.

In addition to attending the Sunday showing, Rachel Corrie's parents, Craig and Cindy, will also give a presentation to various classes at Crescent Valley High School on Thursday, Oct. 22, and at Corvallis High School on Friday, Oct. 23.

"It's kind of intimidating for me," Helman said of performing the piece for Rachel Corrie's parents. "I feel like I've come to know her, because obviously what you write in your diaries is very personal."

"She had a very clever, self-depreciating sense of humor," Helman said of Rachel Corrie's writings. "And, a keen sense of awareness."

Information: or 737-4918.

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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