Statement on Q&A following staging of My Name is Rachel Corrie, 03/05/2019

1-4_5 My Name is Rachel Corrie.jpg

A staging of My Name is Rachel Corrie, a play based on the diaries of activist Rachel Corrie and jointly edited by Katharine Viner and Alan Rickman, took place at Sheffield's Festival of Debate across four nights last week (1st to 4th May 2019). The play was directed and produced by a local team who are external to the festival, but the play was included in the festival programme.

Last week, following a series of emails from a member of the public with concerns about speakers taking part in the post-show Q&As, the My Name is Rachel Corrie team took the decision to cancel Friday's Q&A. We emailed the member of the public to relay this and updated our website accordingly. Unbeknownst to us - and after we had sent out information to the contrary - the external production team decided a Q&A with a different focus, but with some of the same panellists, would go ahead on Friday.

Festival of Debate is unique in that external partners can get in touch and run their own events as part of our programme. While the festival had no involvement in the programming of the play and Q&As - nor did we provide any funding of any kind to the production - we will be examining our policies and procedures regarding external events that we offer umbrella promotion to in future.

It saddens us that some people felt that their views would not be welcome at one of our events, because above all else the Festival of Debate was founded to open up discussion, not to close it down. We sincerely hope the festival helps counteract the forces in our society that seek to divide us and we will continue to work to this end.

Festival of Debate team

Sam Walby