David Hare was born in Bexhill, England, on June 5, 1947, the son of Clifford Theodore Rippon and the former Agnes Gillmour, his wife. Hare was first educated at Lancing College (among his classmates were future playwright Christopher Hampton and lyricist Tim Rice) before going on to Jesus College, Cambridge, where he earned a master’s degree, with honors, in 1968. Hare began writing plays at the age of twenty-two. In 1970, his first full-length play, Slag, about three women teachers locked in a power struggle over a failing English boarding school, won for him the Most Promising Playwright Award granted by the Evening Standard, even though the play was not favorably received by some feminists, who considered the playwright to be sexist; others went so far as to call him a misogynist. The New York Times drama critic Clive Barnes described Slag as a metaphor for the decline of English society, following Hare’s suggestion that the play was not so much about women as institutions. Also in 1970, Hare married Margaret Matheson, a marriage that produced three children before ending in divorce in 1980. In 1992, he married Nicole Farhi, a designer.
From the beginning of his theatrical career in 1968 when he cofounded the Portable Theatre (with Howard Brenton and Snoo Wilson), an experimental troupe that toured Great Britain, Hare demonstrated an interest in creative dramatic collaboration and in theatrical direction, as...
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David Hare is one of England’s most important playwrights of the latter quarter of the twentieth century. The son of Clifford and Nancy Gilmour Hare, he has spoken feelingly of the sacrifices his sailor father made to send him to the good British public school, Lancing. Hare went on to earn an M.A. with honors in English from Jesus College at Cambridge University in 1968. His first interest in the theater as a profession began while he was at the university, although it was his family’s hope that he might become an accountant.
After college Hare, together with Howard Brenton and Snoo Wilson, formed a traveling company of players appropriately called the Portable Theatre. Between 1968 and 1971 he was on the road, living hand-to-mouth with the band of young actors and producing plays by hopeful, unestablished playwrights. In addition to helping to manage the company, Hare was involved as a director and, eventually, a writer. During this time he also established a connection with the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square, Chelsea, which has a long tradition as the center for drama of social importance and artistic experimentation. His work for that company as a literary manager anticipated an important aspect of his later work in the theater.
The idea that drama is a form of casual entertainment has been assailed constantly in Europe since the last half of the nineteenth century. Critics such as Émile Zola, and, more significantly, playwrights such as Henrik Ibsen have demanded a social, sometimes a political role for the theater and have often achieved it with great success. The Royal Court Theatre has often been the venue for British examples of serious drama, indeed, any kind of drama that attempted to examine the hypocrisies, the immorality, the evils of modern society. George Bernard Shaw’s work was originally produced at the Royal Court, and after World War II the new wave of socially critical drama, which was called the kitchen-sink school of drama and led by John Osborne, became associated with this theater. Hare is a second-generation representative of the movement, which included Osborne, Arnold Wesker, John Arden, and Harold Pinter.
In 1970 Hare married Margaret Matheson, and they had three children before divorcing in 1980. For a time he was the resident dramatist at the Royal Court, and in 1973 he took the same position with the Nottingham Playhouse. Slag, his play about three young women determined to make a life of their own without men, won the 1970 Evening Standard award as work of “the most promising playwright” of the year and revealed one...
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