Theatre in Wales

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Fifty Years-Plus of Theatre

David Hare

David Hare , On Stage & in Print , February 17, 2022
David Hare by David Hare The lights are permitted to shine again. Theatre is eager to perform, but it takes a little time.

In March the Torch, Cwmni Franwen, Mid Wales Opera, Lighthouse, August 2012, National Dance, Theatr Clwyd take to the road.

Until that cavalcade begins February remains a time to look back.

Michael Frayn wrote once that a dramatist’s life lasts around fifteen years. A once firebrand, Mark Ravenhill an example, becomes a sage. The sheer longevity of David Hare's writing career is staggering.

His first play "Slag" won him the Evening Standard Most Promising New Playwright of that year. His fourth play got a full commercial production, "Knuckle" playing in the West End. That was in 1975.

In 2021 a third collection of articles appeared in book form. In 2022 a large-cast play about Robert Moses opens next month set to run for several months. Hare must be doing something right.

Gary Raymond was there when Tamara Harvey revived "Skylight" for Theatr Clwyd.

"England", was his observation, "has produced few writers for stage with such a gift for political expression as David Hare, and when he is on form he has the touch of the genius about him.

"....Hare breathes life into the realm of the pamphleteer time and time again, and more often than not makes entertaining and compelling the things that smoke above the heads of most of us masquerading as political philosophy and academe...a script that fuses seamlessly the patterns politics forces upon common lives with the other stuff in those lives, but here is visible the complications on offer to people who make their own decisions rather than people who are at the whim of a system. This is a story of typically complicated people, leading typically complicated lives, built upon messy motives. It is a story about people, but the political heart beats loud."

The writing below:

05 July 2018 Hare article: "My Ideal Theatre"

"In some theatres, workshops and readings are regularly deployed as stalling devices by artistic directors who pretend they are interested in new plays, but who use uncertainty and hesitation in staging them as a means of extolling and abusing their power. At the Playhouse, workshops and readings will never be dangled as hurdles a writer has to jump."

11th December 2017 Hare critical attack on Ivo van Hove

"David Hare meanwhile has been assailing the establishment for half a century. The new orthodoxy of “infection”- anti-drama, apolitical, deploring of comedy, infatuated with electronics- was up for attack again.

Most director-devised evenings” he asserted “offer common wisdom telling you what you already know. Such stuff is not theatre, it's piety...politically reactionary and misogynistic. The coinage “theatre-maker” is as ugly it is clumsy.”

21 July 2017 Hare on the leaving of Europe: "Brexit Shorts"

"David Hare is on ground he likes, a garden of loveliness in Hampshire...She is a Hare character, the woman of resigned experience...Hare gets aspects right. One is the two-tribe division where one side has marginal or no social contact with those on the other side."

08 December 2015 Hare memoir: "the Blue Touch Paper"

"Graham Greene, he says, made his unpleasant characters Lancing alumni. It stood for “a particular sort of aspiring public school that produced a young man full of facile sociability and doubtful morals.” Those doubtful morals fuelled the drama for a half-century to come.

"The most striking revelation about the inner life is the vulnerability. On page 2 he writes that “the very over-sensitivity that equips you to be a writer also makes being a writer agony...Only when I became a creative writer could I rid myself of self-consciousness, and of worldly ambition.” The paradox of creativity is once again reprised, that fulfillment of self entails an unselfing. “The page fills or it doesn't. You're powerless.”

19 April 2010 Hare on the financial crash: "the Power of Yes”

"The most curious thing about it is that a play about banking, the biggest play-writing commission of the year, has no bankers in it. But then it never seems very interested in its subject. Early on it tries to show that the pre-wrecked RBS had grown bigger than Britain itself. But it completely muddles the difference between GNP and the value of the entire national assets....

"....There are no players from the top twenty or thirty public companies that collectively created the mess....the narrator is a second weakness. He appears to be called David Hare but he isn’t. He is dim and dull, while the playwright is neither...Theatre is there to give us pain, or passion, or comedy, or excitement, or anger, anything rather than a limp lettuce of various knights, journalists and civil servants."

29 March 2008 Hare's second collection of articles: “Obedience, Struggle and Revolt”

"Hare and I have shared the same country but not the same perception...Mine has been a Britain- his is always and repetitively England- that took in simmering civil war, riot, strikes and power outages, the whole panoply of the unburied dead in 1979. Gender, sexuality and race relations have been transformed. Class, education, income have varied wildly. Not so for Hare for whom “Theatre has changed as little as society.”

18 February 2008 Hare on Iraq: “The Vertical Hour”

"David Hare has a long and creditable track record in writing big parts for women. Susan Traherne in “Plenty”, his best known character, was big enough to lure Cate Blanchett to the stage in its 1999. Peggy Whitton in “A Map of the World” is a similar type and gave Diana Quick a strong feisty part. No writer has bettered a depiction of a Thatcherite government minister than Marion French in “The Secret Rapture”

"Nadia Blye, Professor of Politics at Yale, is in this tradition, which should be applauded. Hers is a huge part which dominates. “The Vertical Hour”, and is played to the hilt by Indira Varma. But dramatically she is a problem as she simple blasts the male characters off the stage."

April 2001 Hare on theatre. David Adams at "Amy's View"

Gary Raymond at "Skylight"

https://www.walesartsreview.org/theatre-skylight-theatr-clwyd/

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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