WOS Photos: Rickman & Rachel Juggle Three WinsDate: 6 February 2006
My Name Is Rachel Corrie was the biggest straight play winner in this year’s Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, triumphing in three categories: Best New Play, Best Solo Performance and Best Director (See News, 31 Jan 2006). Alan Rickman, Megan Dodds and Katharine Viner - the trio behind Rachel Corrie - reunited at the Royal Court, where the play premiered in April 2005, to collect their trophies.
Why did a 23-year-old woman leave her comfortable American life to stand between a bulldozer and a Palestinian home? My Name Is Rachel Corrie recounts the real story of “the short life and sudden death of Rachel Corrie, and the words she left behind.”
Alan Rickman took the idea to the Royal Court after reading an email written by Corrie and posthumously published in the Guardian. With the permission of Corrie’s family, he and Guardian journalist Katharine Viner developed the play based on Corrie’s own writings. Megan Dodds starred as Corrie in the 80-minute monologue.
Following its sell-out premiere season in the 80-seat Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, My Name Is Rachel Corrie returned to the Royal Court’s 395-seat Jerwood Theatre Downstairs for a second limited season last October (See News, 3 May 2005). Next month, it will receive its US premiere at the New York Theatre Workshop ahead of a planned US tour and further international dates.
Speaking to Whatsonstage.com over celebratory coffee and croissants at the Royal Court, Rickman said: “The way I feel about My Name Is Rachel Corrie winning these awards is, I think, what I felt every night in the theatre – that the audience somehow owned the play. With the best kind of work, you always feel like you give it away to the audience. As an actor or a director, I’m just there to facilitate that.” He added, with regards to his own personal Best Director win for the play: “Thank you very much indeed. It’s really not about me, it’s about Rachel. You have honoured her and her memory with these awards and now her story goes on.”
Dodds, who collected the award for Best Solo Performance, said: “I want to say thank you to the people who voted and the people who came to see the show. It takes a certain level of commitment because it’s not an easy piece and it’s not a typical play. But so many people seemed to feel it wasn’t just Rachel’s story, it was their story, too. Of course, it never would have happened if Alan hadn’t read about Rachel in the Guardian one day. I’m so grateful to have been a part of it.”
Rickman’s co-author Viner still seemed taken aback by the play’s success. “My Name Is Rachel Corrie is the first play I’ve ever been involved with,” she admitted. “To work with the material of such a brilliant writer and with such a wonderful team was a dream come true. I’ve loved doing it, it’s opened up a whole new area of my imagination. Thank you to everyone who voted for us for honouring Rachel’s memory in this very special way.”
As for triumphing over premieres by Neil LaBute, Richard Bean, Simon Stephens, Aaron Sorkin and Helen Edmundson to win the title for Best New Play, Rickman compared it to being “a bit like Crufts – you know, when you’ve got a poodle up against a sheep dog. We feel like the little poodle, but with the muscle of a much bigger dog. It’s for other people to judge, of course, but I think this piece is so important because it reminds us that we are part of the world we live in.”
To view the full list of winners & nominees as well as further