Obedience, Struggle, and Revolt

Overview

"Please reject absolutely the crazy . . . suggestion that playwrights don't have intentions . . . They do."

In this intimate collection of writings by the author of Stuff Happens and Plenty, David Hare reveals a perspective as meticulously constructed as one of his dramas. In selections ranging from his beginnings as a politically charged upstart in the seventies through to his current position as one of the world's most respected playwrights, Hare skillfully expands upon the ...

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Overview

"Please reject absolutely the crazy . . . suggestion that playwrights don't have intentions . . . They do."

In this intimate collection of writings by the author of Stuff Happens and Plenty, David Hare reveals a perspective as meticulously constructed as one of his dramas. In selections ranging from his beginnings as a politically charged upstart in the seventies through to his current position as one of the world's most respected playwrights, Hare skillfully expands upon the prevailing themes of his astounding body of work. With a serious eye on social issues—tempered by a distinct irreverence—Hare dissects the role of entertainment in contemporary society, mapping, in the process, a dynamic new trajectory for post-millennium theater.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780571228720
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber
  • Publication date: 12/27/2005
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

David Hare is the author of over seventeen plays. He lives in London.

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Read an Excerpt

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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Table of Contents

1 Obedience, struggle & revolt 9
2 I have a go, lady, I have a go 33
3 Eulogy for John Osborne 57
4 Why fabulate? 64
5 A defence of the new 87
6 The play is in the air 111
7 What Asian babes? : what Nazis? 127
8 The cordless phone 139
9 Raymond Williams : 'I can't be a father to everyone' 145
10 Harold Pinter : going on seventy 172
11 Alan Clarke : banned for life 178
12 The separation of wheel and track 184
13 The second intifada 192
14 Chardonnay on the Potomac 203
15 When shall we live? 213
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