Plays by David Hare

The Absence of War

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

The Absence of War offers a meditation on the classic problems of leadership, and is the third part of a critically acclaimed trilogy of plays (Racing Demon, Murmuring Judges) about British institutions.

Its unsparing portrait of a Labour Party torn between past principles and future prosperity, and of a deeply sympathetic leader doomed to failure, made the play hugely controversial and prophetic when it was first presented at the National Theatre, London, in 1993.

Amy's View

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

It is 1979. Esme Allen is a well-known West End actress at just the moment when the West End is ceasing to offer actors a regular way of life. The visit of her young daughter, Amy, with a new boyfriend sets in train a series of events which only find their shape eighteen years later. A generational play about the long term struggle between a strong mother and her loving daughter, Amy's View mixes love, death and the theatre in a way which is both heady and original.

Amy's View was first performed at the National Theatre, London, in June 1997, and transferred to the Aldwych Theatre in January 1998.

The Bay at Nice

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

The Bay at Nice is set in a room in the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad in 1956, where an aging Valentina, once a young student (and possibly lover) of Henri Matisse has been asked to help authenticate a painting for the museum staff. She is accompanied by her daughter Sophia, a teacher but also an artist, now unhappily married to a Party bureaucrat and desperate to be free of her marriage and start a new life, for which she needs her mother's approval and financial assistance. The result is a battle of wills between the two women, one an ex-bohemian, who left the freedom of Paris to raise her fatherless child in a repressive Russia, and the daughter, now a stifled woman in her thirties eager to taste the freedom her mother once enjoyed.

The Bay of Nice was first performed at the National Theatre, London, in September 1986.

Berlin

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

In two contrasted readings for the stage – Berlin and Wall – David Hare visits a place where a famous wall has come down; then another where a wall is going up.

For his whole adult life, David Hare has been visiting the city which so many young people regard as the most exciting in Europe. But there's something in Berlin's elusive character that makes him feel he's always missing the point. Now, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the reunification, he offers a meditation about Germany's restored capital – both what it represents in European history, and the peculiar part it has played in his own life.

Berlin premiered at the National Theatre, London, in February 2009.

The Blue Room

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Schnitzler described Reigen, his loose series of sexual sketches, as ‘completely unprintable’. The company that first presented them was prosecuted for obscenity in 1921. It was only when Max Ophuls made his famous film in 1950 that the work became better known as La Ronde. Now David Hare has re-set these circular scenes of love and betrayal in the present day. Using as much imaginative freedom in his turn as Ophuls did fifty years ago, and with just two actors playing all of the parts, Hare has created a fascinating landscape of dream and longing which seems both eternal and bang-up-to-date.

The Breath of Life

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

'Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge.'

Gauguin's aphorism serves as the motto for this morality tale of two women, both in their sixties, whose lives are interwoven in ways neither of them yet understand. Madeline Palmer is a retired curator, living alone on the Isle of Wight. One day to her door comes Angela Beale, a woman she has met only once, who is now enjoying sudden success, late in life, as a popular novelist. The progress of a single night comes fascinatingly to echo the hidden course of their lives.

The Breath of Life was first presented at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London in 2002.

Fanshen

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

In vividly dramatic form, this play tells how a remote Chinese village comes to terms with Communism. Every revolution creates new words. The Chinese revolution created a whole new vocabulary in which a very important word is 'fanshen' which literally means 'to turn the body' or 'to turn over'

To hundreds of millions of landless and poor peasants it means to stand up, throw off the landlords' yoke, and gain land, stock, and houses. Moreover it means to enter a new world and this play is the story of how the peasants of Long Bow build a new world

Fanshen was first performed in London by the Joint Stock Theatre Group at the ICA Terrace Theatre, London, in April 1975.

Gethsemane

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Nothing is more important to a modern political party than fund-raising. But the values of the donors can't always coincide with the professed beliefs of the party. And family scandal within the cabinet has the potential to throw both the money-raisers and the money-spenders into chaos.

This richly imagined ensemble play about British public life looks at the way business, media and politics are now intertwined to nobody's advantage, as, in an unforgiving world, one character after another passes through Gethsemane.

Gethsemane, David Hare's fourteenth original play for the National Theatre, London, premiered in November 2008.

The Judas Kiss

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Oscar Wilde's philosophy leads him on a path to destruction. The Judas Kiss describes two pivotal moments: the day Wilde decides to stay in England and face imprisonment, and the night when the lover for whom he risked everything betrays him.

With a burning sense of outrage, David Hare presents the consequences of an uncompromisingly moral position in a world defined by fear and conformity.

The Judas Kiss was first presented by the Almeida Theatre Company at the Playhouse Theatre, London, in March 1998.

Knuckle

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Knuckle combines surrealism and satire in a breathlessly fast-moving plot when Curly Delafield, mercenary soldier and gun-runner, returns to Guilford to find out what has happened to his sister Sarah.

Knuckle premiered at the Comedy Theatre, London, in March 1974.

Picture of David Hare

David Hare is a playwright and filmmaker. His stage plays include Plenty, Pravda (with Howard Brenton) Racing Demon, Skylight, Amy's View, Via Dolorosa, Stuff Happens, South Downs, The Absence of War and The Judas Kiss. His films for cinema and television include Wetherby, The Hours, Damage, The Reader and the Worricker trilogy: Page Eight, Turks & Caicos and Salting the Battlefield. He has written English adaptations of plays by Pirandello, Chekhov, Brecht, Schnitzler, Lorca, Gorky and Ibsen. For fifteen years he was an Associate Director of the National Theatre.