Too Hot for New York | The Nation


Too Hot for New York

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Few knew that Corrie had been a dedicated writer. "I decided to be an artist and a writer," she had written in a journal, describing her awakening, "and I didn't give a shit if I was mediocre and I didn't give a shit if I starved to death and I didn't give a shit if my whole damn high school turned and pointed and laughed in my face."

About the Author

Philip Weiss
Philip Weiss is the author of American Taboo: A Murder in the Peace Corps (Harper Perennial) and an editor of the...

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Corrie's family felt it most urgent to get her words out to the world. The family posted several of her last e-mails on the ISM website (and they were printed in full by the London Guardian). These pieces were electrifying. They revealed a passionate and poetical woman who had long been attracted to idealistic causes and had put aside her work with the mentally ill and environmental causes in the Pacific Northwest to take up a pressing concern, Palestinian human rights. Thousands responded to the Corries, including a representative of the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square, London, who asked if the theater could use Rachel's words in a production--and, oh, are there more writings? Cindy Corrie could do little more than sit and drink tea. She had family tell the Royal Court, Give us time.

It was another year before Sarah Corrie dragged out the tubs in which her sister had stored her belongings and typed passages from journals and letters going back to high school. In November 2004 the Corries sent 184 pages to the Royal Court.

It had been the intention of the two collaborators, Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner, a Guardian editor, to flesh out Rachel Corrie's writings with others' words. The pages instantly changed their minds. "We thought, She's done it on her own. Rachel's voice is the only voice you had to hear," Viner says. The Corrie family, which holds the rights to the words, readily agreed. Rachel Corrie was the playwright. Any royalties would go to the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice. The London "co-editors" then set to work winnowing the material, working with a slender blond actress, Megan Dodds, who resembles Corrie.

A year ago the play was staged as a one-woman show in a 100-seat theater at the Royal Court. The piece was critically celebrated, and the four-week run sold out. Young people especially were drawn to the show.

My Name Is Rachel Corrie--the title comes from a declaration in Corrie's journal--is two things: the self-portrait of a sensitive woman struggling to find her purpose, and a polemic on the horrors of Israeli occupation.

The work is marked by Plath-like talk about boys--"Eventually I convinced Colin to quit drowning out my life"--and rilling passages about her growing understanding of commitment: "I knew a few years ago what the unbearable lightness of being was, before I read the book. The lightness between life and death, there are no dimensions at all.... It's just a shrug, the difference between Hitler and my mother, the difference between Whitney Houston and a Russian mother watching her son fall through the sidewalk and boil to death.... And I knew back then that the shrug would happen at the end of my life--I knew. And I thought, so who cares?... Now I know, who cares...if I die at 11.15 p.m. or at 97 years--And I know it's me. That's my job..." As the work grinds toward death, Corrie's moral vision of the Mideast becomes uppermost. "What we are paying for here is truly evil.... This is not the world you and Dad wanted me to come into when you decided to have me."

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