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December 06 , 2010

The Blue Touch Paper

A Memoir


When, in 2000, the National Theatre published its poll of the hundred best plays of the 20th century, David Hare had written five of them. Yet he was born in 1947 into an anonymous suburban street in Hastings. It is a world he believes to be as completely vanished as Victorian England.

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Obedience, Struggle and Revolt

What is a political playwright? Does theatre have any direct effect on society? Why choose to work in a medium which speaks to so few? Is theatre itself facing oblivion? All frequent questions addressed to David Hare over the last thirty-five years, as his work has taken him from the travelling fringe to the National Theatre, from seasons on…

Now in his first panoramic work of memoir, ending as Margaret Thatcher comes to power in 1979, David Hare describes his childhood, his Anglo-Catholic education and his painful apprenticeship to the trade of dramatist. He sets the progress of his own life against the history of a time in which faith in hierarchy, deference, religion, the empire and finally politics all withered away. Only belief in private virtue remains.

In his customarily dazzling prose and with great warmth and humour, David Hare explores how so radical a shift could have occurred, and how it is reflected in his own lifelong engagement with two disparate art forms - film and theatre. In The Blue Touch Paper David Hare describes a life of trial and error: both how he became a writer and the high price he and those around him paid for that decision.

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