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Hare Combines Berlin/Wall at HighTide Before NY

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London theatregoers have a few days left to catch playwright David Hare performing Wall, his new 40-minute monologue on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, at the Royal Court this week. However, if they want to see Wall paired with its equally acclaimed companion piece Berlin, they’ll need to get out of the capital next month - booking a transatlantic flight for the double bill’s limited New York run … or heading for the Suffolk coast.

Wall/Berlin will be presented together for the first time, and for one performance only on 10 May 2009, at the HighTide Festival in Halesworth, Suffolk, before transferring to New York’s Public Theater for five performances from 14 to 17 May 2009.

The Hare monologues are a major coup for HighTide, which is only in its third year but is already gaining a national reputation and rapidly expanding - last year’s five-day event has been extended to 14 days in 2009. Founded by artistic directors Samuel Hodges and Steven Jon Atkinson, the main aim of HighTide is to source, develop and produce the latest emerging talent in new writing.

The three new plays, performed by the resident ensemble, that form the core of HighTide Festival 2009 were sourced from over 700 unsolicited scripts from writers around the world. Muhmah - the professional debut of Jesse Weaver, an American playwright who now lives in Ireland – centres on Cape Cod twins about to turn 30. Fixer is the first full-length production of British-Nigerian former journalist Lydia Adetunji and concerns a rebellion over an oil pipeline in northern Nigeria. And Guardians is the second part of Lucy Caldwell’s Irish trilogy, the first of which, Leaves was produced by the Royal Court Theatre. Guardians is directed by Gate joint artistic director Natalie Abrahami.

Other 2009 HighTide highlights include: director Katie Mitchell’s staging of One Evening, Samuel Beckett’s poetry combined with Schubert’s song cycle Winterreise; the Faber Playwrights series’ overview of the work of Tom Stoppard, directed by Sam Potter; and a screening of Shakespeare in Love followed by a Q&A with director John Madden, as part of the British Films Through the Decades series.

Another stated aim of HighTide is to support work beyond the festival with both national and international transfers and tours. The HighTide production of Adam Brace’s one-man piece on the arms trade, Stovepipe, recently made a big impact when it received its London premiere in a promenade performance at the West 12 shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush, presented in collaboration with the National and Bush theatres.

For more information on HighTide, visit the Festival website.

David Hare made his acting debut in Via Dolorosa, which premiered at the Royal Court in 1998, directed by the Court’s then artistic director Stephen Daldry, who directs the two new monologues. The earlier piece 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. Wall is his response to the Israel/Palestinian separation barrier now being erected which will ultimately stretch 286 miles.

The 40-minute Wall is a companion piece to Berlin, Hare’s 55-minute reading about Germany’s restored capital, which he first performed at the National Theatre in 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 are published together by Faber as Berlin/Wall.

Hare and Daldry’s other collaborations include the films The Reader - about German post-war guilt and a catalyst for Berlin - 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.

Since stepping down as artistic director of the Royal Court in 1998, Stephen Daldry 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.

On its own, Wall was first staged at the Royal Court from 12 to 14 March 2009 and has returned for a further ten performances, from 14 to 25 April 2009, running in the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at 9.30pm, after the scheduled performances of the main show, Wallace Shawn’s The Fever.

- by Terri Paddock


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