(Jillian Dailey as Rachel Corrie. Photo courtesy of Simply New Theatre)
If ever a sound evoked the words "jaws of death," it's the audio clip that runs at the beginning of Simply New Theatre's production of "My Name is Rachel Corrie." Grinding, screeching, utterly implacable, coming from above and thus enormous -- the sound of this bulldozer adds a dimension vastly more fearsome than even the graphic photos of Rachel Corrie just after her fatal injuries, photos that are readily available online. Above the stage set at the Bevard Studio last Saturday night -- an activist college student's hopeful, wildly disheveled room, crammed with posters and paste-ups and strewn clothes and even a left-over teddy bear -- that sound also embodies the intrusion of life's harsh realities. In this room, Rachel Corrie (Simply New veteran Jillian Dailey) recounts her life in an extended monologue that's framed by some guitar and song (Dylan Montrond) and an "eyewitness account" (recited by Chad Healy) that summarizes how her death happened.
On Sunday, March 16, 2003, Corrie, a 23-year-old American college student from Olympia, Washington, was crushed to death by an Israeli Army bulldozer in the city of Rafah. At that time Rafah, which sits next to the border between Egypt and Gaza, had a population of 140,000 and of these 60 per cent were refugees of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Corrie was there because she had volunteered with a Palestinian-led group committed to non-violence, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), to help prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes. On that day she was defending -- with a bull-horn -- the home of the Nazrullah family, a doctor and his wife and their three children, in the middle of a block in a residential neighborhood that the Israeli military believed was riddled with underground tunnels used for smuggling arms.