On the eve of the holiday season, The Empty Space delivers a unique gift to Bakersfield theater-goers Saturday: a one-night-only production of the one-woman show “My Name is Rachel Corrie."
"It’s an eye-opening thought piece played exceptionally by one woman," director Roger Mathey wrote of the show in an email.
Now based in San Francisco, Mathey, who has roots in Bakersfield theater, reached out to his colleagues at the Oak Street theater to present the show. It centers on Corrie, a real-life Washington state college student and activist who was killed in the Gaza Strip in 2003, only two months after arriving.
Played by Bakersfield actress Mariah Jordan, the character shares, through Corrie's actual letters, her experiences, which started with her forming a sister city project between her hometown of Olympia, Wash., and Rafah in the Gaza Strip and continued with her involvement in the pro-Palestinian group International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Corrie was killed by an armored bulldozer operated by the Israel Defense Forces, although stories differ for the incident among human rights groups and Israeli authorities.
He wrote, "People may think they know about the material, but from the viewpoint of someone who was living it, it’s quite different."
Mathey said this is the kind of show that challenges audiences. He also points out that this production is not intended to judge any religion but rather encourage people to keep an "open mind about the conflict going on between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people."
"I like to direct pieces that will make the audience think about things and this will definitely make them so that," he wrote. "I grew up in the Middle East and so it’s also something I remember growing up."
He's been interested in the show since seeing a friend's staging of it in Washington.
"I have been wanting to do it for years but have been waiting for the right actor to handle the material."
Because there is only one performance, Mathey urges people who are interested in attending to reserve their seats by calling him at 323-594-9666.