David Hare (playwright)

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David Hare

BornDavid Rippon Hare
(1947-06-05) 5 June 1947 (age 76)
St Leonards-on-Sea, Hastings, Sussex, England
OccupationPlaywright, screenwriter, director
EducationJesus College, Cambridge (MA)
Notable worksFull list
Notable awardsFull awards
Margaret Matheson
(m. 1970; div. 1980)
(m. 1992)

Sir David Rippon Hare (born 5 June 1947) FRSL is an English playwright, screenwriter and theatre director. Best known for his stage work, Hare has also enjoyed great success with films, receiving two Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay for writing The Hours in 2002, based on the novel written by Michael Cunningham, and The Reader in 2008, based on the novel of the same name written by Bernhard Schlink.

In the West End, he had his greatest success with the plays Plenty (1978), which he adapted into a 1985 film starring Meryl Streep, Racing Demon (1990), Skylight (1997), and Amy's View (1998). The four plays ran on Broadway in 1982–83, 1996, 1998 and 1999 respectively, earning Hare three Tony Award nominations for Best Play for the first three and two Laurence Olivier Awards for Best New Play. His other notable projects on stage include A Map of the World, Pravda (starring Anthony Hopkins at the Royal National Theatre in London), Murmuring Judges, The Absence of War, The Vertical Hour, and his latest play Straight Line Crazy starring Ralph Fiennes. He wrote screenplays for films including the Stephen Daldry dramas The Hours (2002) and The Reader (2008) and BBC's Page Eight (2011) and Netflix's Collateral (2018).

In addition to his two Academy Award nominations, Hare has received three Golden Globe Award nominations, three Tony Award nominations and has won a BAFTA Award, a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and two Laurence Olivier Awards. He has also been awarded several critics' awards, such as the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and he received the Golden Bear in 1985.

Hare has been associate director of the National Theatre since 1984.

Early life[edit]

David Hare was born in St Leonards-on-Sea, Hastings, Sussex, and was raised – first in a flat, then in a semi-detached house – in Bexhill-on-Sea,[1][2] the son of Agnes Cockburn (née Gilmour) and Clifford Theodore Rippon Hare, a passenger ship's purser in the Merchant Navy. His father's elder brother was the cricketer Steriker Hare.[3] The Hare family claimed descent from the Earls of Bristol.[3][4][5][6] Hare was educated at Lancing College, an independent school in Sussex, and at Jesus College, Cambridge (MA (Cantab.), English Literature). While at Cambridge, he was the Hiring Manager on the Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club Committee in 1968.[7]


Early work[edit]

Hare worked with the Portable Theatre Company from 1968 to 1971. His first play, Slag, was produced in 1970, the same year in which he married his first wife, Margaret Matheson; the couple had three children and divorced in 1980. He was Resident Dramatist at the Royal Court Theatre, London, from 1970 to 1971, and in 1973 became resident dramatist at the Nottingham Playhouse. He co-founded the Joint Stock Theatre Company with David Aukin and Max Stafford-Clark in 1975. Hare's play Plenty was produced at the National Theatre in 1978. Aside from films, he has also written teleplays such as, for the BBC, Licking Hitler (1978), and, for Thames Television, Saigon: Year of the Cat (1983).[8]


Hare founded a film company called Greenpoint Films in 1982, and among screenplays he has written are Plenty, Wetherby, Strapless, and Paris by Night. In 1983, his play A Map of the World was produced at the Royal National Theatre. The production starred Bill Nighy, Diana Quick, and Ronald Hines. The play is set at the Unesco conference on poverty held in Bombay in 1978. It transferred to The Public Theatre in 1985, starring Alfre Woodard, Elizabeth McGovern, and Zeljko Ivanek. In a mixed review, The New York Times theatre critic Frank Rich wrote: "The play is in part about conflicting points of view – about how reactionaries and leftists look at geopolitics, how journalists and novelists look at events and how the West and the Third World look at each other."[9]

In 1985, Hare wrote Pravda with Howard Brenton, its title referring to the Russian Communist party newspaper Pravda. The play, a satire on the mid-1980s newspaper industry, in particular the Australian media and press baron Rupert Murdoch,[10][11] stars Anthony Hopkins in a role that earned him the Laurence Olivier Award. Hare became the associate director of the National Theatre in 1984, and has since seen many of his plays produced, including his trilogy about major British institutions: Racing Demon, Murmuring Judges, and The Absence of War. He has also directed many other plays aside from his own works, notable examples being The Pleasure Principle by Snoo Wilson, Weapons of Happiness by Howard Brenton, and King Lear by William Shakespeare for the National Theatre. Hare is also the author of a collection of lectures on the arts and politics called Obedience, Struggle, and Revolt (2005).[12]


In 1990, Hare wrote Racing Demon; part of a trio of plays about British institutions, it focuses on the Church of England, and tackles issues such as gay ordination, and the role of evangelism in inner-city communities. The play debuted at the National Theatre and received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play. The play transferred to the Broadway stage at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre in 1995. The production starred Paul Giamatti, Denis O'Hare, and Kathleen Chalfant. The play was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play.

In 1995, Hare's translation of Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht was produced in London.[8] In 1996, Hare wrote Skylight, a play about a woman who receives an unexpected visit from her former lover whose wife has recently died. Michael Gambon and Lia Williams starred in the original production, which received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play. The following year, the production transferred to the Broadway stage, where it was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play.[13]

In 1998, Hare wrote Amy's View, a play that deals with an emotional relationship between a mother and her daughter. The original production at the Royal National Theatre starred Judi Dench, Samantha Bond, and Ronald Pickup. Dench starred in the Broadway transfer, earning the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play in 1999.[14]


In 2001, Hare wrote My Zinc Bed, which premiered at the Royal Court Theatre starring Tom Wilkinson, Julia Ormond, and Steven Mackintosh. The play was adapted into a television film of the same name in 2008. The play received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play nomination, Hare's eighth Olivier Award nomination. The following year Hare wrote the screenplay for The Hours (2002) adapted from the Michael Cunningham book of the same name. The film starred an ensemble cast that included Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman as women from three different time periods struggling against adversity. Hare received the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay nomination as well as BAFTA Award, Golden Globe Award nominations.[citation needed]

In 2008, he adapted Bernhard Schlink's 1995 novel into Stephen Daldry's film The Reader starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes. The film focuses on a romance in the 1950s between a teenaged boy and an older woman who is later discovered to have been a Nazi guard and is on trial for committing war crimes during the Holocaust. The film was well reviewed and earned Hare his second Academy Award nomination. He also received BAFTA and Golden Globe Award nominations.[15][16]


Hare's 2011 play South Downs, based on his based on his own experiences of being schooled at Lancing College, was well received at the Chichester Festival,[17] and was adapted as a Saturday Drama on BBC Radio 4.[18]

In December 2011, it was announced that his monologue Wall about the Israeli West Bank barrier was being adapted by Cam Christiansen as a live-action/animated documentary by the National Film Board of Canada;[19] originally slated for completed in 2014, Wall premiered at the Calgary International Film Festival in 2017.[20] In November 2012, The New School for Drama selected Hare as temporary Artist-in-residence, during which he interacted with student playwrights about his experience in varying mediums.[21] His career is examined in the Reputations strand on TheatreVoice.[22] He is particularly well known for incisive commentary on the problems of public institutions. Raymond Williams once said, sardonically, that the public services are largely managed by the nation's "upper servants". Hare addresses this group, providing an analysis of the workings of the institutions: he is, he has said, interested in the struggle to make procedures work better – right now – not in waiting until some revolution, somehow, sometime, comes about to raze the current system altogether, to replace it with perfection.[23]

In 2016, Hare wrote the screenplay for Denial based on Deborah Lipstadt's History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier. The film starred Tom Wilkinson, Rachel Weisz, and Timothy Spall. The film dramatises the Irving v Penguin Books Ltd case, in which Lipstadt, a Holocaust scholar, was sued by Holocaust denier David Irving for libel. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to positive reviews. It later received the BAFTA Award for Outstanding British Film nomination.[citation needed]


In 2020, Hare contracted COVID-19, an experience reflected in his monologue Beat the Devil, with Ralph Fiennes in the starring role.[24]

In 2022, Hare wrote, Straight Line Crazy. The play is set in the 1920s through the 1960s in New York City and centres on the life of Robert Moses, portrayed by Fiennes.[25] Fiennes stars as Moses, once a powerful man in New York and the "master builder" of infrastructure from new parks, bridges and expressways. During his working life, he served on the New York State Council of Parks and was the New York Secretary of State. The play premiered at the Bridge Theatre in London in March 2022. The play transferred to the New York stage with Fiennes at The Shed in October 2022.[26]


In 1993, Hare sold his archive to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. The archive consists of typescript drafts, notes, rehearsal scripts, schedules, production notes, correspondence, theatre programs, resumes, photographs, and published texts associated with Hare's plays, teleplays, screenplays, and essays, as well as foreign-language translations of Hare's works; works by other authors; personal correspondence; minutes of meetings; and Hare's English papers from Cambridge University.[27]

Personal life[edit]

He has been married to the French fashion designer Nicole Farhi since 1992.[28]

In 1993, Hare's best friend Sarah Matheson was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy and died from the disease in 1999. In January 2015, Hare broadcast the BBC Radio 4 Appeal to raise money for the Multiple System Atrophy Trust, which was founded by Matheson.[29]


Selected credits




Awards and honours[edit]

For his work in theatre, he has received eight Laurence Olivier Award nominations, winning the award twice, for Racing Demon in 1990 and Skylight in 1996. He has also received three Tony Award nominations for Plenty in 1985, Racing Demon in 1996 and Skylight in 1997. He also received the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize (1975), a BAFTA Award (1979), the New York Drama Critics Circle Award (1983), and the London Theatre Critics' Award (1990).[citation needed]

Hare has received various award nominations for his film work, including two Academy Award nominations for The Hours (2002), and The Reader (2008); two Golden Globe Award nominations; and five BAFTA Award nominations.[citation needed] He was awarded the Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear in 1985. In 1997, he was a member of the jury at the 47th Berlin International Film Festival.[35]

He has also received various honours including knighthoods, degrees, and fellows. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1985. This gave him the Post Nominal Letters "FRSL" for Life.[36] He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by Jesus College, Cambridge, in 2001.[37] He was knighted in the 1998 Queen's Birthday Honours List "For services to the Theatre". This allows him to use the title Sir. He was awarded the Honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) by the University of East Anglia in 2010.[38]


  1. ^ "Hastings Literary Festival". 1066 Country. Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  2. ^ Daldry, Tom (14 December 2018). "Sir David Hare at the National". Hastings Independent.
  3. ^ a b Hare, David, The Blue Touch Paper: A Memoir, Faber and Faber, 2015.
  4. ^ The International Who's Who, 1991–1992, Europa Publishing, p. 660.
  5. ^ Boon, Richard, About Hare: The Playwright and the Work, Faber, 2003.
  6. ^ Zeifman, Hersh, David Hare a Casebook (London: Routledge, 1994), ISBN 0-8240-2579-2, p. xix.
  7. ^ ADC Theatre, Cambridge Archives.
  8. ^ a b "Hare, David 1947-", Encyclopedia.com.
  9. ^ Rich, Frank (2 October 1985). "THEATER: 'A MAP OF THE WORLD,' BY DAVID HARE". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 July 2022.
  10. ^ "Pravda - Drama Online". www.dramaonlinelibrary.com.
  11. ^ "BBC - The National Theatre At 50: Pravda". Media Centre. BBC.
  12. ^ "David Hare", Contemporary Writers, British Council. Archived 1 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ "The Tony Award Nominations". www.tonyawards.com. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  14. ^ "Winners". www.tonyawards.com. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  15. ^ ""The Reader" Nominated for Four Golden Globes – German Premiere at Berlinale 2009". Studio Babelsberg. 12 December 2008. Retrieved 28 November 2023.
  16. ^ "Adapted Screenplay in 2009 | Nominees". BAFTA. 2009.
  17. ^ Coveney, Michael (20 April 2012). "The unhappiest time of his life: David Hare on dramatising his school days". The Independent.
  18. ^ "Saturday Drama | South Downs". BBC Radio 4. 2012. Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  19. ^ Vlessing, Etan (14 December 2011). "National Film Board of Canada to Animate Israel's West Bank Barrier For Theatrical Doc". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  20. ^ Volmers, Eric (15 September 2017). "Cam Christiansen, David Hare and the NFB break down barriers with animated 'essay' Wall". Calgary Herald.
  21. ^ "The New School for Drama Names Sir David Hare Artist-In-Residence" (Press release). The New School. Retrieved 28 November 2023.
  22. ^ Assessments (2008) by Michael Billington, Richard Boon, Richard Eyre, Charles Spencer and Dominic Cavendish; [1]
  23. ^ C. Sullivan, "The Present: Hare and Shrinking Government Provision", in Literature in the Public Service: Sublime Bureaucracy (2013), ch. 4.
  24. ^ Akbar, Arifa (30 August 2020). "Beat the Devil review – righteous rage of David Hare's corona nightmare". The Observer. London. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  25. ^ Gans, Andrew (23 March 2022). "Ralph Fiennes Leads World Premiere of Straight Line Crazy, Opening March 23 at London's The Bridge". Playbill. Archived from the original on 13 April 2022. Retrieved 15 April 2022.
  26. ^ "Straight Line Crazy". The Shed. Retrieved 5 March 2024.
  27. ^ "David Hare: An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center". norman.hrc.utexas.edu. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  28. ^ Edemariam, Aida (18 September 2009). "Nicole Farhi: 'Go home alone? I can't'". The Guardian.
  29. ^ "Sir David Hare to broadcast the BBC Radio 4 Appeal for the MSA Trust". Multiple System Atrophy Trust. 18 December 2014.
  30. ^ Hare, David (31 July 2014). Writing Left-Handed: Collected Essays. Faber & Faber. ISBN 9780571301249 – via Google Books.
  31. ^ Thaxter, John (12 November 2008), "Gethsemane" review, The Stage.
  32. ^ Kellaway, Kate (15 February 2009). "Theatre review: Berlin, a reading by David Hare". The Guardian.
  33. ^ Billington, Michael (19 April 2009). "Theatre review: Wall / Royal Court, London". The Guardian.
  34. ^ "National Theatre : Productions : The Power of Yes". Archived from the original on 27 September 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2009.
  35. ^ "Berlinale: 1997 Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  36. ^ "Sir David Hare". The Royal Society of Literature. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
  37. ^ "Honorary and St Radegund Fellows". Jesus College, University of Cambridge. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
  38. ^ "Honorary Graduates University of East Anglia". The University of East Anglia. Retrieved 14 March 2022.

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