What's in a Name?

From Joanna Horowitz, Communications Department

I meant to write this post on Tuesday, but this week has quickly slipped between my fingers as we amp up for opening night of Fire on the Mountain (in previews now, officially open on Wednesday). I finally took our lobby display for the show to print this afternoon, and now the office is quiet, the weekend's almost here. If someone could get me a pina colada, I'll be ready to blog. Ok, apparently our cabana boy has the day off, so it'll have to be a less tropical blog. Which is fine, considering I'm going to jump right into talking about My Name is Rachel Corrie.

We had the meet and greet for the show on Tuesday, and beforehand I got the amazing opportunity to sit in on the first read-through. If you haven't heard, Washington Ensemble Theatre superstar Marya Sea Kaminski will be playing Rachel. If her first reading was any indication, she is going to be fantastic. She seems really connected to the role and already is capturing the passionate spirit of Rachel. I actually cried at one point in the show. That’s impressive for me because I'm not a crier at all (unless it’s It’s a Wonderful Life, which gets me every time). I was just right there with Marya the whole time.

I felt the same way watching her perform in her one-woman show In DisDress Now: Redux, which I saw at W.E.T. last month. The whole time I felt like we were having an intimate conversation. Of course, this was kind of awkward when I thought I knew Marya and were best friends already and went to talk to her and realized, no, I’ve never actually met her. She's very gracious and funny, though, and I am really excited to report that she's going to be blogging right here about her experience rehearsing My Name is Rachel Corrie.

I know this is a controversial play, but seeing the read-through really affirmed to me that this is a story about someone just looking for a way to make a difference. Ultimately, and I know some people will disagree with me, the route she took to try to make that difference doesn’t matter. What matters is that she was passionate about art and about eliciting social change to lessen suffering. She was just about my age when she died in 2003, and though her words can sounds young and maybe a little idealistic, I find the piece inspiring simply because she wanted to make the world a better place--as corny as that sounds-- and tried to do it. I would like to think I haven't reached a place of cynicism or jadedness in my life and might still be able to make a difference too. I suppose that’s one of the reasons I work in theater.

To completely switch gears, we're hearing nothing but raves about Fire on the Mountain, and if you want to see it, you should get tickets now because it's going to be packed. I think the show is so appealing because it's really your most basic story of survival and hope against all odds. Plus with great music. And presumably a delicious specialty cocktail for you to enjoy in the lobby. But first I need to go dream one up. Stay tuned for something bourbon-y.


Anonymous said...

We will be boycotting this play. I feel that this is a one sided view, and we have seen plenty of pro-palestine side. The rep has been very diverse in showing plays but have forgotten one ethnic group-- the jews and has chosen to pass on any of those plays. It is about time that we have plays for artistic reasons and not political.

cynthia, seattle rep director of communications said...

Dialogue is just what we're looking for at the theatre; a chance to see and hear different perspectives, expressed in different ways, is the nature of the art form. And it's a bonus for us if we find the audience engaging in conversation after, with us or with each other. A personal choice to boycott a play curtails conversation, of course, but we respect the choice to see or not see what we present.

But I do need to respond to a couple of points. First, the choice to produce "My Name is Rachel Corrie" is, first and foremost, an artistic one, as it is with all our work. Our literary manager read the script, felt strongly about the strength of its writing and the compelling voice that was Rachel's, and proposed it to our artistic director. The Rep chose this play long before the political controversy about it arose in New York; while that has raised the profile of the play, it was already securely part of our season before that. Second, thank you for acknowledging the diversity of plays the Rep produces, and the diversity of communities and voices our productions depict. However, it is not accurate to say we've "forgotten" the Jewish community -- just two seasons ago, we produced an extended run (two weeks longer than our usual practice) of Chaim Potok's "The Chosen," to great critical and popular appeal. And just last season we presented "Tuesdays with Morrie," which, while not a play about being Jewish, was embraced by the Jewish community as a story about a prominent Jewish American citizen.