David Hare Obedience, Struggle and Revolt

ISBN 13: 9780571232192

Obedience, Struggle and Revolt

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9780571232192: Obedience, Struggle and Revolt
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What is a political playwright? Does theatre have any direct effect on society? Why choose to work in a medium which speaks to so few? Is theatre itself facing oblivion? All frequent questions addressed to David Hare over the last thirty-five years, as his work has taken him from the travelling fringe to the National Theatre, from seasons on Broadway to performances in prisons, church halls and on bare floors. Since 1978, Hare has sought uniquely to address these and other questions in occasional lectures given both in Britain and abroad. Now, for the first time, these lectures are collected together with some of his more recent prose pieces about God, Iraq, Israel/Palestine and the privatisation of the railways. Bringing to the lectern the same wit, insight and gift for the essential for which his plays are known, Hare presents the distilled result of a lifetime's sustained thinking about art and politics.

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About the Author:

David Hare is one of Britain's most internationally performed playwrights. Born in Sussex in 1947, he had a long association with Britain's National Theatre, which produced eleven of his plays successively between 1978 and 1997. A trilogy about the church, the law and the Labour Party - Racing Demon, Murmuring Judges and The Absence of War - was presented in repertory at the Olivier Theatre in 1993. Nine of his best-known plays, including Plenty, The Secret Rapture, Skylight, The Blue Room, Amy's View, The Judas Kiss and Via Dolorosa - in which he performed - have also been performed on Broadway.

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Excerpted from Obedience, Struggle & Revolt by David Hare. Copyright © 2005 by David Hare. Published December 2005 by Faber and Faber Inc., an affiliate of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

Introduction

It would take a great scholar of the English language to tell us when the word 'lecture' acquired such negative connotations. 'Don't lecture me!' 'I'm not taking a lecture from anyone.' 'It was more like a lecture than a play.' Look in the Collins English Dictionary and only one of the six given meanings is 'to reprimand at length'. But somehow the sixth has spilt over and infected the other five. What ought to be a purely descriptive word has come to carry heavy derogatory freight. Even a child knows to associate the word 'lecture' with adult superiority, long-windedness and boredom. Why?

Clearly, I'm biased. For reasons stated later in this collection, I have found it useful, for the last quarter century, to decorate the writing of plays and films with a kind of commentary -- call it background murmuring, maybe, in the form of public address. More than anything, it has had the virtue of helping me examine my own ideas. The act of setting them down has clarified them, at least for me, if not for anyone else. I think I could best define a political writer as one who is likely to have an analysis as well as a view. By some quirk of temperament, I can't begin to write fiction unless I have more than a purely instinctive notion of what I am, at the outset, intending to say. The finished play will then almost certainly turn out to bear as many differing interpretations as those of my fellow-dramatists who claim only to blunder about in the dark with no real idea either of where they're headed or of their reasons for writing. (Please reject absolutely the crazy Jonathan Miller suggestion that play-wrights don't have intentions. Or that there's no need for directors to seek to discover them. They do. And there is.) But for me it's always been important to try and take some kind of aerial view -- often as much about context as about content. That's also the reason to accept an occasional invitation to speak. Beyond my personal pleasure in the discipline of pursuing a line of argument for almost an hour lies my own preference as a member of an audience. Isn't it always more interesting to hear someone unmediated than it is to hear them clash in so-called debate?

To give you the idea: I've noticed, among my friends and acquaintances, that I am, for some reason, one of the few people who positively looks forward to the speeches at weddings. I'd go further. For me, they're the best part. Perhaps you may think me a cold fish when I admit that I have sometimes watched unmoved as the ring was slipped onto the finger, or as the first kiss was taken. (Priests always seem to be saying 'Not yet.') But I have never failed to feel a thrill of genuine anticipation when someone calls for silence and rolls out the magic words: 'Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking'. In one heart at least, the announcement does not cause a sinking. Far from it. Part of my interest is clearly professional. I am, after all, a playwright, and there is nothing more revealing of character than when a proud father or a jealous ex-lover acting as best man is forced to rise to their feet and 'offer a few words'. Yes, life is theatre, and the rituals which make private matters public are specially delicious. But I also love the prospect that, for once, somebody's spool is going to be allowed to run and run. Mark it down as optimism, but I cannot help feeling -- at least before they speak -- that the longer someone goes on, the more you are likely to learn.

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