David Hare

David Hare

Born David Rippon in St. Leonards-on-Sea in East Sussex, England he was the son of seafarer Clifford Rippon and his wife Agnes Gilmour. Educated at Lancing College and Jesus College in Cambridge, he arrived on the theater scene in the late 1960s as co-founder of the socially conscious Portable Theatre Company. He penned his first play, 1970's "Slag," for the troupe, out of sheer necessity - a promised script had never arrived, so Hare rose to the challenge. The play, about a trio of women who create an all-female boarding school to escape political and societal restrictions regarding their sex, introduced many of the themes that recurred in Hare's work throughout his career. Hare was deeply concerned with the state of England at the end of the 20th century, and examined what he considered its rapid decline in subsequent efforts like "England's Ireland" (1972), which focused on the two countries' combative relationship, and "Brassneck" (1973), a collaboration with Howard Brenton that used a family drama to explore the poisonous influence of capitalism and corruption on the middle class. In these projects and others, Hare was able to address far-reaching political and social themes through popular dramatic forms; in "Knuckle" (1974), he used the stylized dialogue and plotting of the pulp detective novel to explore the amoral business practices. His talent soon brought him to into established English theater circles, and he served as Resident Dramatist at the Royal Court Theater from 1970 to 1971 and later at the Nottingham Playhouse in 1973. In 1978, Hare began writing for the National Theatre, which saw the first production of one of his best-known and most respected plays, "Plenty." A detailed depiction of the slow-building moral erosion of Britain's ruling class following World War II, it focused on the life of a former courier for the Special Operations Executive in France during the war whose life and dreams have spiraled into entropy. Hare directed both the London production, which earned him an Olivier nomination, and the New York versions in 1982 and 1983, where it received multiple Tony nominations and a New York Drama Critics' Circle award. He would later go on to pen the film adaptation by director Fred Schepsi, which starred Meryl Streep and John Gielgud. But Hare's involvement in film and television was already well established by the release of "Plenty" to theaters; his career as a television scribe and director was launched with "Licking Hitler" (BBC, 1978), a companion piece to "Plenty" about the relationship between a wartime propaganda writer and his assistant. The production won Hare a BAFTA for Best Single Television Play, and was soon followed by several other projects for television.In 1984, Hare became Associate Director of the National Theatre, which produced such plays as "Pravda" (1985), a satire on the UK newspaper business, and a 1990s trilogy which targeted three of England's most formidable institutions: the Anglican church ("Racing Demon," 1990), the legal system ("Murmuring Judge," 1991) and Parliament with "Absence of War" (1992). Hare's film career remained equally noteworthy; he won the Golden Bear from the Berlin Film Festival for "Wetherby" (1985), a drama about the impact of a suicide on the life of a repressed schoolteacher (Vanessa Redgrave). "Paris By Night" (1988) starred Charlotte Rampling as a politician whose life is nearly undone by an adulterous affair, while "Strapless" (1989) offered the perennially unsung Blair Brown one of her best roles as an American doctor whose midlife crisis is challenged by the arrival of her younger sister (Bridget Fonda). Hare triumphed again in 1995 with "Skylight," a three-character drama about the reunion between two lovers whose lives have taken very different economic and social paths. Another Olivier winner for Best Play, it also received a 1997 Tony nomination and became one of Hare's most well-regarded works. The following year, he directed Mike Nichols and Miranda Richardson in Wallace Shawn's "The Designated Mourner," which he later adapted to film with the same cast in 1997. Hare served as director or adapter of numerous plays and novels, including "King Lear" and Howard Brenton's Weapons of Happiness, as well as writings by Chekhov and Brecht.Knighted for his contributions to theater in 1998, Hare showed no signs of slowing as the new millennium approached. "Via Dolorosa" (1998) was a monologue about the impact a visit to Israel and Palestine had on his psyche, while "My Zinc Bed" (2000), "The Breath of Life" (2002) and "The Permanent Way" (2003) again tackled national concerns through deeply personal stories. The latter, which explored the effect of Britain's privatization of its railway system through interviews with its citizens, paved the way for one of his most acclaimed later productions, 2004's "Stuff Happens." A blistering dissection of America and England's involvement in the Iraq War, the play mixed transcripts from interviews and press conferences with the Bush and Blair administrations with dramatic interpretations to present a wide tapestry of viewpoints on the controversial invasion.Hare's career in film and television also continued to yield outstanding results. He received an Oscar nomination and a BAFTA Award, among numerous recognitions, for his script for "The Hours" (2002), Stephen Daldry's look at the complicated lives of three women whose lives were all linked by the Virginia Woolf novella, Mrs. Dalloway. Hare also began work on an adaptation of Jonathan Franzen's novel The Corrections shortly after completing "The Hours," but changes in director and production shifts kept the script in turnaround for nearly a half-decade. He also penned a book of lectures on politics and art titled Obedience, Struggle and Revolt, which was published in 2005, and returned to the subject of Iraq with "The Vertical Hour," which opened on Broadway in 2006 before traveling to London in 2008. Hare also directed Joan Didion's adaptation of her book The Year of Magical Thinking, about the loss of her husband John Dunne and their daughter's subsequent illness, for the Broadway stage in 2007. In 2008, Hare penned the film script for "The Reader," which starred Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes. Based on the novel by Bernhard Schlink, it concerned a German researcher (Fiennes) who discovers that the train conductor with whom he enjoyed a sexual relationship as a teenager was a former Nazi concentration camp guard. Showered by effusive praise by critics, Hare's script received Golden Globe and Satellite award nominations. That same year, his play "Gethsemane," which depicted a British government riddled with corruption, was presented at the National Theatre.