Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Writers' rooms / David Hare

Photo by Eamonn McCabe

Writers' rooms: David Hare
David Hare
Friday 19 January 2007 17.41 GMT

I work in what was once Mark Gertler's studio. It was originally built to house the furnace for a Victorian sculptor next door. Gertler lived and worked here from 1915 to 1932. He painted The Merry Go Round in here - it's now in the Tate - and tried to seduce Carrington in the bed immediately above my head. Occasionally the odd art student comes round and knocks on the door.
The big pine desk was a wedding present from my future mother-in-law, Jean Matheson, in 1970. My first play had just been produced. The desk cost £50, and I've worked on it ever since. The gifted designer who built it was killed hang-gliding a year or two later.

The problem for writers in the performing arts is that your work- place too easily becomes an office rather than a study. You end up administering plays, not writing them. So when I need to concentrate hardest, I go away. I associate particular plays with the places where significant parts of them were written - Plenty and Licking Hitler in a peeling shack in Brighton, The Secret Rapture in a cottage near Montgomery, Racing Demon in a huge cheerless hotel during a very wet winter in Llandudno. The Permanent Way, about British rail privatisation, was written beachside in Santa Monica. Afterwards, I like to eat alone in restaurants - that way you think about the play all day.
I write things out in longhand, then later put everything on the computer. The most precious object on my desk is a small self-portrait by my wife Nicole Farhi which she sculpted just after we met. It's one of her best pieces. Opposite my desk is a wonderful photograph by Ivan Kyncl of a production I directed at the Almeida of Shaw's Heartbreak House. Emma Fielding is sitting alone, waiting for Richard Griffiths and Penelope Wilton to come on and act with her. For me, it expresses theatrical potential. Looking at the photo you know something good is about to happen. And it did - every night.

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