Chelsey Gillard: directing My Name is Rachel Corrie

October 12, 2017 by

In the 1950s Britain saw the theatrical era of the Angry Young Men. Now, 60 years later, we are still waiting for the Angry Young Woman to take centre stage.

A 2015 study published in psychology journal Law and Human Behaviour concluded that anger in women causes them to have less influence over people, while anger in men causes them to have more influence. Angry women are seen as overly emotional, are taught from childhood to apologise for their anger and constantly face being made the punchline of a “period” joke.

American student Rachel Corrie was as angry as they come; outraged by the growing class imbalance and horrendous violations of human rights she saw around her. She was a young woman unafraid to speak out – loudly – sometimes, by her own admission, to the detriment of listening.

Rachel did much more than just speak out, she took non-violent direct action. In 2003 she left behind her safe, supportive home in Washington to join the International Solidarity Movement in Palestine.

During her short time in Palestine Rachel immersed herself in the culture, learning all she could and keeping her eyes and heart open to what she saw around her. She was constantly revising her view of the world and was always aware of her own privilege as a white westerner.

My Name is Rachel Corrie is edited from the real Rachel Corrie’s diaries and emails, by Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner. First presented at The Royal Court in 2005 the play has always been controversial. Any play that delves in to the complexities of the Israel Palestine conflict is going to be divisive. The conflict has been violent, persistent and deeply personal for many around the world for generations.

Although Rachel’s story comes firmly from one side of this conflict, at the heart of this play is compassion for the human condition. Rachel desperately, somewhat naively, wanted to believe in the fundamental goodness of people. The disparity between what she believed and what she saw left her deeply sad and understandably angry.

Rachel’s anger became so blinding that she stood between a civilian home and an Israeli bulldozer. The bulldozer did not stop.

After less than two months in Palestine Rachel was killed at the age of 23.

Her passion lives on through her words. By presenting this play for the first time in Wales I really hope that some of Rachel’s anger will rub off on the audience. Israel and Palestine are still engaged in this bitter conflict. We see headlines every day about the hideous violations of human rights all over the world, including here in our own country. And yet the vast majority of us, including myself, do nothing but share the occasional article on social media.

Yes, anger can be dangerous, it can be blinding. But without anger no-one would speak out, no change would be made.

As another angry young woman I hope to provoke debate, positive action and a lot of listening. I believe that theatre can be both an engaging night out and a call for change.

It has been an absolute joy getting to know Rachel through her words: laughing at her precocious wit, feeling her deep love for her family, admiring her eloquence and empathising with her pain.

As a company we have been extremely lucky to work with a student actor, Shannon Keogh, who is currently in her third year of training at University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Shannon has shown an emotional intelligence well beyond her years, embodying Rachel’s unique mix of youthful hope and deep analysis of the world she finds herself a part of.

In just two short weeks together we have been learning to utilise our own anger in order to share the stories we feel compelled to shout about.

We Angry Young Women are done with waiting for permission to speak, we invite you to come and hear what we have to say. And by all means catch us in the bar after the show to share your views, challenge us and start an ongoing conversation about how we can be the change we wish to see in the world.


My Name is Rachel Corrie runs at The Other Room 10-21 October at 7.30pm. Tickets are available now from

Leave a Reply