By Rachael Bentley
As Ashley Malloy greeted people at the door of Davidson 123, there was a discernible look of excitement in her eyes. Wearing a T-shirt from The Evergreen State College, baggy jeans and brown work boots, she shook each persons hand and greeted them kindly, while also trying to find seats for everyone.
Malloy was the star of the one-woman show, “My Name Is Rachel Corrie,” that played for three days this past weekend. The play is based on the diary entries and e-mails from Corrie herself, who was killed in March of 2003 while in Palestine. She was an American Peace Activist, working with a group called the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). According to the accounts of her family and some witnesses, she was crushed to death by an Israel Defense Force armored bulldozer in Rafa, Palestine. She was protesting the demolition of a family’s house by the IDF on the Gaza Strip, acting as a human shield.
The play, which was originally presented by the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre in London and edited by Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner, memorializes what Corrie believed in and the story of her life up to the moment of her death. Malloy has worked and developed the production for months, a process that she explains was never easy.
“When I first began the process, the responsibility that comes with playing a real person was overwhelming to me,” Malloy explained. “I did exhaustive research on her, and read all her writings, but she still always felt so high above me. Not distant necessarily, but just such an incredible spirit that I could never possibly live up to! Reading everything, and then seeing pictures of her broken body that had been demolished just as so many Palestinian homes she was working to protect had been, was so disturbing. Seeing slanderous things written about her on the Internet was especially difficult.”
Malloy even went to the Evergreen State College in Olympia,Washington, where Corrie attended college, to do research and visit with The Rachel Corrie Foundation.
When asked how much she knew about the conflict in Palestine before the start of this production, Malloy said, “Nothing…like very limited knowledge.”
It wasn’t until in 2011 when she met people who were from the refugee camps that she became aware of what was going on. Malloy explained, “They were talking about their experiences living in a refugee camp and I just wondered, ‘How can I not have known about this? How do more people in America not know about this?’ And I instantly became impassioned with the subject.”
During the question and answer portion after the show was over, an audience member asked Craig and Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s parents, if they had found justice for their daughters “murder.”
“Craig and I, for years and years, resisted using the word (murder) even though many other people did. We still don’t use it easily,” Cindy Corrie explained.
Cindy explained that in August of 2012, her daughters case was heard by a single district judge in Haifa,Palestine. The case included 22 witnesses, many from the Israel military, and took a couple of years before a decision was made . The judge found no fault with the actions of the israeli military.
“Justice is a complicated matter,” Cindy Corrie explained. “The court is one place where you look for that. I find so much power and so much comfort in the fact that after 10 years, Rachel’s words are still resonating with people, and it continues to be an inspiration to me. We have to remain active in these issues through people like Ashley.”
Craig, Corrie’s father, explained during the Q&A that Ashley was the most passionate performers he had ever witnessed, even after seeing dozens of versions of the play.
“There were rehearsals where I would just cry and cry after the final speech, thinking about the light the world lost that day when Rachel departed this world,” Malloy explained. “Her relationship to and curiosity about death makes the play particularly haunting and poignant. This woman foreshadowed her own death. She risked her life to save people she had need met. I had no choice but to give just as deep an investment as an actor that she did as an activist.”