From actor Marya Sea Kaminski, playing Rachel in My Name is Rachel Corrie.
Saturday March 10, 2007
The Last Day of Rehearsal,
on the Eve of Tech for MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE
“How’s the play going?”
asks my best friend, across the sticky table ghostlit by the flourescent beer sign. We haven’t seen each other in a week.
Well, it rivals falling in love. You know. There’s always that rush. The adrenaline of finding a role that you’d like to wear and stretch and stitch together, and then there is the dynamite in your stomach of actually getting cast. Of getting the phone call. Of saying thank you, goodbye, and looking around at your new world bursting with vibrant color, possibility, and the intoxication of sudden purpose. That’s what getting cast in MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE was like. Like dynamite exploding in the gut.
And sometimes that’s the best part. Sometimes the victory outshines the prize and you wrestle yourself into the rehearsal room everyday and make grocery lists in your head while you’re on break. Your imagination becomes resentful for all the parties and movies and slow dinners and long naps you could be having if you weren’t committed to living inside this play.
Rehearsing this play has not been that. It has not been the sweet fleet of a crush. It has not been the adventurous resonance of a night on the town. It has been like falling in love. Deep, and difficult, and beautiful in a way you cannot describe to your friends over beers.
For the last three weeks, I have woken up every morning and taken my time. I have eased into the day with the gentlest joy. Unforced, in the way that my day jobs and teaching gigs and endless meetings can sometimes demand the dregs of my energy. I have woken up every day with no wishes to make. I have had no restlessness or arm’s reach dreams of moving to Europe or taking a long vacations or going back to school or re-evaluating the Whys and mapping out the Hows or where I am. I have woken up every morning and prepared to go into the world of this play, eager to soak up all the delight and poetry and maddening curiosity Rachel Corrie used to paint her days.
I am happier than I’ve ever been, getting to know this woman. This girl. Her writing has seeped under my skin and pierced me in places. Her conviction, which somehow feels like a dirty word in this time of Great Apathy, is more fun to attend than any party I’ve every been to. Her politics, which so many people have dismissed as naive or deemed controversial and dangerous, are a dynamic story of calling things like you see them. No more and no less.
My last few weeks have been peppered with all of these press interviews, which have been nerve-wracking and sometimes shallow. The questions dress Rachel up as a hero, a martyr, an innocent victim... The more I get to know Rachel, the more I think she was just a girl. You can scour her writing and never find any desire to be a hero. She wanted to make a difference and she believed that she could. Maybe that’s naive. Maybe that’s heroic. I know that it is uncommon.
Admittedly, Rachel Corrie has become my hero. As an artist. And as a writer. And as a defender of her own spirit, her own light, which she knew was finite and indescribable. I am inspired by the way she followed her gut. Trusted her intuition. Saw a path laid before her and did not look away when that road became very, very dark.
The rehearsals have been dream-like. They have gone very, very fast. I show up in the morning and Braden and I warm-up and then we get to work. I blink and six hours have passed. I always feel like we’re just getting started. Every day I feel like that. Even when the time has gone roughly. Last Thursday, the weight of the text and the noise of all the expectations hit me from behind while I was trying to practice the delicate ballet of the blocking. But even in the rare times I feel like crumpling under the pressure of embodying this extraordinary person in the middle of the place where she grew up, the difficulty has been welcome. Rachel courted difficulty. She seemed to have a knack for looking challenge deep in the eye and painting it sky blue.
We go into tech tomorrow. I am reluctant to leave the rehearsal room. Not because we’re not ready. This play wants an audience. This play wants to be heard and laughed at and fought with. I am reluctant to leave the rehearsal room because it has been a wonder-full time, looking into Rachel’s world and building it from the inside out. It has been an artistic dream come true to meet Braden Abraham every day and devour the work in front of us. It has been an experience of warm sunlight through the window to run lines with our Stage Manager, Erica Schwartz-Hall, and to share small insights on the text and discover the happy secrets that Rachel buried every place she went. It has been a trip around the world to sit with our Dramaturge, Kati Sweeney, and build a clear picture of the sounds of tank shells through concrete and the banter of young children playing soccer in Rafah. It has changed my life, for good, I think, to spend these days with Rachel Corrie.
I will never be the same.
“It’s going really well,” I say to my best friend. “I can’t wait for you to see it.”