A war on two fronts : The plays of David Hare 1973-86.
This thesis, which encompasses a comprehensive survey of David Hare's
published plays from the period 1973-86, examines his work as a product
of a war on two fronts - with conventional/established British history and
within himself about the nature of socialist ideals. The result is a challenge
to the tendency to place him within a European tradition of documentary or
Epic Theatre initiated by Erwin Piscator and Bertolt Brecht.
Nevertheless, to resolve his own conflicts, Hare commonly uses distancing
techniques. He sets his plays in the past, he mediates his (necessarily male)
perspective through women protagonists and the action is frequently
located at a geographical distance - either in the English provinces or
beyond England altogether. His search is to accommodate the modern and
to achieve a valid perspective from which to make a moral judgement within
the clamour of conflicting propagandas. His use of film and television -
Hare writes, edits and directs his own work - reflects this search for a single
What might seem a political anger stands revealed as a form of revenge
against a supposed class alienation and generational disinheritance. The
war on two fronts is not - as is commonly supposed- the world war and the
class war, but the nature of history and of the self. In this sense Hare's work
is classical, based on the dualism of good and evil, life and death. This is
evident from as early as 1975, when an extended exploration of the nature
of art commences. After a period of self-conscious argument, history
becomes a matter of personal memory and of catharsis rather than of
political solution, and art itself the only salvation.