By Craig Corrie
My family and I were saddened on Thursday morning to learn of thedeath of Alan Rickman – too sad to write our feelings at the time. Alan, of course, is famous as an actor and director, both on stage and in film. But we first came to know him when, with Katharine Viner (now editor-in-chief of the Guardian), he edited our daughter Rachel’s writing into the playMy Name is Rachel Corrie. The care Alan took for our family, his courage to take on this particular project and, most of all, the respect he showed for Rachel and her writing, impress me still as truly extraordinary.
Imagine a person of Alan Rickman’s talent, stature and experience stepping into the space between a recently bereaved family, the Israel/Palestine conflict and a young woman’s private email and journals. Voluntarily. I could not imagine such a thing had Alan not done exactly that. As My Name is Rachel Corrie concluded its first run in New York late in 2006, I told Alan: “You know, you were working without a net. There was a very real risk that no matter what you did with Rachel’s writing, our family would not be in the emotional state to approve of it.”
He responded: “If it doesn’t have risk it is not worth doing.”
We know Alan as a giving person, and most of all, he gave of himself. He was working on a film during the 2005 Royal Court Theatre runs of My Name is Rachel Corrie, but managed to direct not only the play, but also our family’s first trips to London to see it. Not that our new friends at the Royal Court needed any instruction on how to host us. But there were things that, with time, we came to recognise as “Alan touches”. Lunch here, tickets to a play there. We were treated always with incredible care and kindness – and it could have been so different.
When David Johnson brought the play to the Playhouse theatre in the West End in spring 2006, Alan was in town. He and his partner, Rima, met our evening plane with a car and gave us a ride – not to our hotel, but across the Thames. We walked for a while on the right bank of the river and then turned onto the downstream side of Golden Jubilee Bridge towards Embankment and the Playhouse. About half way across, Rima called out: “Alan, we’re on the wrong side!”
Icons are two-dimensional. They lack depth. When Alan and Katharine Viner crafted My Name is Rachel Corrie from Rachel’s writing, and he shepherded it through those first four theatre runs, they managed to capture Rachel’s energy, her humour and her ability to question herself, as well as her world. For those who did not know Rachel but only knew of her, the play gave back to my daughter her humanity – no small achievement.
Alan Rickman was and remains deeply loved and appreciated by all of Rachel’s family and will be missed immensely.
– Read more: Alan Rickman Gave the Greatest Gift to My Late Daughter, Rachel Corrie – The Guardian