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Blue Rose Stage Collective to Present MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE 7/8-7/18

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In 2003, 23-year-old American Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli Defense Forces bulldozer in the Gaza strip. A volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement, Corrie was protesting the destruction of Palestinian homes. With the permission of the Corrie family, actor Alan Rickman and Guardian journalist Katharine Viner accessed Rachel Corrie's diaries and emails and edited a huge volume of her written material into a 70-minute one-woman show titled My Name is Rachel Corrie.

In its debut production, Blue Rose Stage Collective presents the St. Louis premiere of this extraordinary story of a young woman's singular experience in a region most of us only know from the news. Rachel Corrie sought to discover for herself the human impact of her own country's foreign policies on people thousands of miles from her home, a small city outside of Seattle.

The show has been a source of controversy across the country. After its critically acclaimed premiere in 2005 at London's Royal Court Theatre, the production's 2006 production at the New York Theatre Workshop was postponed indefinitely only six weeks before it was scheduled to open. The New York producers feared political reprisals, and Artistic Director James Nicola stated, "We found that our plan to present a work of art would be seen as us taking a stand in a political conflict that we didn't want to take." The British production eventually made it to New York's Off-Broadway Minetta Lane Theatre in October 2006. The play has since been cancelled in Toronto and South Florida, but has also been successfully produced throughout the U.S., and internationally in Israel, Greece, Argentina, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Australia.

For the play's St. Louis premiere, Blue Rose Stage Collective intends to focus on the human element behind Rachel's story. Portraying Rachel is local award-winning actress Magan Wiles, who also traveled to the Occupied Territories of Palestine with the International Solidarity movement in the summer of 2006. The production is directed by acclaimed director Tom Martin, with set and lighting design by Kevin Kline award-winner Mark Wilson.

Performances are July 8-11th and 15th-18th, with Thursday - Saturday performances at 8pm, and Sunday performances at 7. All performances will take place at Saint Louis University's black box theatre in Xavier Hall, 3733 West Pine Blvd. Tickets are $10 and can be reserved at bluerosestage@gmail.com. There will be refreshments and a moderated discussion after each performance.

Magan Wiles has been a regular performer on St. Louis stages since 2004. A two-time Kevin Kline award nominee, Magan won the very first RiverfrontTimes Mastermind Award for Performing Arts in 2008, the same year she was nominated for St. Louis Magazine's "A List". She is also a teaching artist specializing in at-risk youth, and in 2006 traveled to the West Bank in the Occupied Territories of Palestine where she did human rights documentation and intervention with the International Solidarity movement, as well as taught theatre in Balata Refugee Camp.

Blue Rose Stage Collective is a brand spanking New Theatre Company in St. Louis. Founded by acclaimed director Tom Martin, the company aims to challenge audiences artistically, politically and socially.

Rachel Corrie was a 23-year-old American peace activist from Olympia, Washington. On March 16, 2003, she was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer while undertaking nonviolent direct action to protect the home of a Palestinian family from demolition.

Shortly after her death, several of her e-mails home from Gaza were published in a number of media outlets, including in the Guardian UK. British actor and director Alan Rickman was so moved by them that he approached The Royal Court Theatre about finding a way to tell Rachel's story onstage. A year after her death, Corrie's family sent the theatre 184 pages of documents: copies of Rachel's letters, e-mails and journals - some dating back to her childhood. Guardian journalist Katharine Viner was brought on board to help Rickman edit the material into a play. The two decided to let Rachel's story be told in her own words.

In April 2005, My Name is Rachel Corrie, directed by Rickman and performed by Megan Dodds, opened at The Royal Court Theatre and became the fastest-selling play in the theatre's history, selling out two complete runs before transferring to the West End the following year. The play was critically acclaimed and won the Theatregoers' Choice Awards for Best Director, Best New Play and Best Solo Performance.

The production was slated for transfer to the New York Theatre Workshop in March 2006, but six weeks before it was scheduled to open, the New York producers decided to postpone the production indefinitely, fearing political reprisals. Artistic Director James Nicola told the Guardian of London: "In our pre-production planning and our talking around and listening in our communities in New York, what we heard was that after Ariel Sharon's illness and the election of Hamas, we had a very edgy situation." Nicola went on to say, "We found that our plan to present a work of art would be seen as us taking a stand in a political conflict that we didn't want to take." The Royal Court felt that the postponement was, in effect, a cancellation, and withdrew the rights. The British production eventually made it to New York's Off-Broadway Minetta Lane Theatre in October 2006. The play has since been cancelled in Toronto and South Florida, but has also been successfully produced throughout the U.S., and internationally in Israel, Greece, Argentina, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Australia.

Blue Rose Stage Collective Resident Artist Magan Wiles read the play in 2005, and cites it as one of the reasons she traveled to Palestine with the International Solidarity Movement in 2006. In Spring 2006, she performed the play in church basements as a fundraiser for her trip has since worked towards having it produced professionally in St. Louis. Director Tom Martin joined the project in 2009.


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