Via Dolorosa was the result of Hare’s first three-week visit to Israel in 1997, when both he and the state were celebrating 50th birthdays. Deeply touched by the experience, he began the memoir that went on to become the monologue, in which he played 33 people on stage - from a family of Jewish settlers in the West Bank to a Palestinian politician in Gaza – whom he met and interviewed about the region’s age-old divisions.
Since then, Hare has performed Via Dolorosa on Broadway and in the West End, and returned many times to the region. This new piece is his response to the Israel/Palestinian separation barrier now being erected which will ultimately stretch 286 miles.
Wall is a companion piece to Berlin, Hare’s 55-minute reading about Germany’s restored capital, which he’s performing at the National Theatre until 20 March as part of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The wall in the Middle East will be over four times as long as the former one in Germany and, in some places, twice as high. Hare’s pair of readings will be published together by Faber as Berlin/Wall on 12 March 2009.
Hare and Daldry’s other collaborations include the films The Reader and The Hours. Hare’s other previous plays at the Royal Court, where he was literary manager and resident dramatist from 1969 to 1971, include Slag, Teeth ‘n’ Smiles, My Zinc Bed and, most recently, The Vertical Hour. His latest play, Gethsemane, premiered at the National last year and is now embarking on a UK tour.
Since stepping down as artistic director of the Royal Court in 1998, Stephen Daldry’s has had widespread success with Billy Elliot: The Musical on stage and on screen with the multi award-winning films of The Reader, The Hours and Billy Elliot.
Hare’s Wall follows last month’s premiere at the Royal Court of Caryl Churchill’s new play written in response to the current Gaza crisis, Seven Jewish Children – A Play for Gaza (See News, 26 Jan 2009).
Commenting on Wall, the Royal Court’s current artistic director Dominic Cooke said: “In 1997 David wrote his acclaimed Via Dolorosa, the result of a journey to Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. Having regularly returned to the region he has responded with this remarkable investigation into the history and philosophy behind the construction of the separation barrier between these territories. It appears as if our major writers are very moved by the current situation in the Middle East, and it's exciting to be able to open up the debate further on the subject with David's powerful and informative piece.
“It's also serendipitous that we are able to programme Wall alongside Mark Ravenhill’s new play about the fall of the Berlin Wall, Over There. Both plays address physical embodiments of political divides, and both raise important issues about the way human beings relate to each other in times of conflict, and in peacetime. We are delighted to welcome David Hare and Stephen Daldry back to the Royal Court with such a thought-provoking play.“
- by Terri Paddock