Stuff Happens

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Stuff Happens is a play by David Hare, written in response to the Iraq War. Hare describes it as "a history play" that deals with recent history.

The title is inspired by Donald Rumsfeld's response to widespread looting in Baghdad:

"Stuff happens and it’s untidy, and freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things.” (April 11, 2003)

The play presents a mix of viewpoints, including arguments for and against the attack on Iraq, mixing verbatim re-creations of real speeches, meetings and press conferences and fictionalized versions of private meetings between members of the Bush and Blair administrations, and international figures such as Hans Blix and Dominique de Villepin.

An ensemble cast plays over 40 roles during the 3-hour play, although the actors playing the principals—Bush, Rice, Powell—play only one role.

Plot and style[edit]

David Hare’s Stuff Happens is a play about the events that led up to the 2003 Iraq War, beginning at about the time of George W. Bush's election in America in 2000. Parts of the dialogue are direct quotes from the characters' real-world counterparts. The author has stated that the dialogue is not “knowingly untrue” but he had to sometimes “use his imagination” to cover events that were not recorded verbatim, admitting that his play is not a documentary as such.[1]

Production history[edit]

Stuff Happens had its world premiere at the Olivier Theatre at the National Theatre in London on 1 September 2004 [1] and has subsequently been performed at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum (with Keith Carradine and Julian Sands) in June 2005 and at Sydney's Seymour Center (with Rhys Muldoon and Greg Stone) in July 2005. Greg Stone won a Helpmann for Best Male Actor in a Play in 2006.

It debuted Off-Broadway on 28 March 2006 at the Public Theater and closed on 25 June 2006. The cast featured Jeffrey DeMunn as Donald Rumsfeld, Zach Grenier as Dick Cheney, Peter Francis James as Colin Powell and Byron Jennings as Tony Blair.[2] Director Daniel Sullivan chose a small venue at the Newman Theater at the Public. This created an atmosphere such “as if the audience too is participating in this re-creation of recent events”.[3] The production won the 2006 Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Ensemble; 2006 Outer Critics Circle Award, Outstanding Off-Broadway Play; and 2005-2006 OBIE Awards for Performance, Peter Francis James, Performance, Byron Jennings and Direction, Daniel Sullivan.[2]

A one-off revival of the play took place as a rehearsed reading at the National Theatre to mark the release of the Chilcot inquiry on July 6, 2016.[4] Directed by David Hare, the production featured Alex Jennings returning to the role of George W. Bush, Julian Sands returning as Tony Blair and Bill Nighy as the Narrator.[5]


  1. ^ a b Hare, David. Stuff Happens. New York. Faber and Faber, Inc., 2004. author's note.
  2. ^ a b Stuff Happens, retrieved 10 February 2017
  3. ^ Brantley, Ben. "David Hare's 'Stuff Happens': All the President's Men in 'On the Road to Baghdad' " The New York Times, 14 April 2006
  4. ^ " 'Stuff Happens' Reading"
  5. ^ [1]

External links[edit]