Tag Archives: David Hare

Remaking… inspiration from existing texts

Reigen, better known as La Ronde, was written by Arthur Schnitzler in 1897, and was published a few years later, solely for private circulation. The play reveals the sexual morals and mores of a society, across all echelons, revealing hypocrisy but also how sex, like death, is the great leveller, regardless of status. In a series of duologues, the audience follows the characters through various encounters – the whore and the soldier, the soldier and the maid, the maid and the young gentleman, the young gentleman and the politician’s wife, and so on, around and around, until we turn full circle with the last encounter, the count and the initial streetwalking whore.

There have been many adaptations of the script over the years, most famously with David Hare’s two-hander, The Blue Room (1994) and Joe DiPietro’s Fucking Men, an exploration of sex in New York’s early days of HIV/AIDS. Schnitzler’s script has been used as a warning against sexually transmitted diseases since its inception, revealing how STDs are not limited to the lower classes, but can run through every layer of polite and not so polite society.

When director Kirstie Davis was approached by LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) to partner up with a writer for their Long Project, she thought of me. We’d collaborated on several other projects – Woman of Flowers, her commission to me from Forest Forge Theatre, and her fabulous re-imagining of my script peeling, with Kiruna Stamell, Ali Briggs and Nicola Miles-Wildin. I love working with Kirstie. As a director she is imaginative, discerning, supportive and full of integrity. It’s always a joy to work with her – in so many ways she really is a playwright’s dream collaborator.

As the LAMDA commission would be for graduating actors going into the world, we wanted to make work which showcased each actor’s individual skills and so reveal their scope. I thought of the structure of La Ronde, with its interlocking ‘daisy chain’ dramaturgy, enabling actors to be in two different duologue-scenes, thereby enabling diversity in what each performer does, and creating parity in stage time. This is not a text with lead and minor parts – all parts are equal in length and importance, with a deliberate mixture of interactive dialogue and monologue for each character.

Lie With Me is not an adaptation of Schnitzler’s text, but is inspired by it. I have taken certain aspects of the original – the circular dramaturgy, the notion of characters from different strata in society engaging – but my piece focuses on a broader representation of encounters, not just sexual, as in the original. I wanted to explore identity culture and how a character may change according to the context they are in, and whom they are interacting with. I also wanted to respond to the times we live in – the contradictions, deceptions and interactions in a ‘post-truth’ contemporary urban setting. My title is carefully chosen, reflecting, I hope, both the original inspiration and the often deceptive lives we lead in a world of ‘fake news’ and an ambiguous moral compass.

Rehearsals start next week, after I complete my fellowship at International Research centre ‘Interweaving Performance Cultures’ attached to Freie Universitat in Berlin. I will be flying to London to start rehearsals. Watch this space.

 

 

 

Lie With Me

by Kaite O’Reilly

13  19 July

The LAMDA Linbury Studio, London.

A world première, inspired by La Ronde, an exploration of the connections and degrees of separation between individuals in post-truth, contemporary urban life. Information here

‘Playwriting?…It’s a harrowingly lonely life.’

The wonderfully honest and stark interview with playwright David Hare in today’s Observer has prompted me to think about the life of a playwright, and the conjoined pleasure and pain that working in the theatre brings.

It seems to be a strange choice of career – long periods alone, endlessly shifting words around a computer screen; having long conversations with imaginary friends in your head (which is how I once explained what I did all day to a taxi driver in Austria). I even wonder if ‘choice’ has anything to do with it. It is a compulsion; some might say necessity. Financial reward, security, and recognition may come far easier in other fields. It certainly wouldn’t be something you would recommend or voluntarily opt for, Hare claims.

He is unflinching in his depiction of a career filled with despair, at the mercy of fashion which, in theatre, he feels is ‘absolutely savage.’ He cites the late greats who died convinced their life’s work amounted to nothing – Moliere, Bulgakov, Tennessee Williams, Osborne – the list, he claims, is ‘horrendous’ – and yet, rather as the Tony Hancock skit, posterity did indeed judge – and decided them all to be important, the impact of their work transformative. But this is small comfort, I imagine, to the long dead: those who felt their work to be over-looked, out of date, and of no consequence when they were alive.

But Hare is equally effusive about the ‘fantastic’ rewards working in the theatre brings, the sense of community, and purpose.

I personally love the contrasting binaries of my working life: the long periods of quiet, solitary work – research, conceptualising, writing, revising – and then the social, collaborative element when a script is put into production. It is a life that serves the contradictory sides to my personality and changing preferred modes of working, satisfying both the reclusive dictator and the party animal team member. It is frustrating, illuminating, nit-picking, uplifting – it is the best job in the world – and even at my lowest ebb, I feel immensely fortunate.

But would I recommend it as a way of life….?

If you have thick skin, fortitude, determination, optimism, a low, easy to maintain lifestyle, a propensity towards joy, rich, generous or at least understanding friends and family, and a supportive, patient partner or cat, plus none, extra, or all of the above. Yes. Absolutely.