Making Mischief: David Hare and the Celebrity Playwright’s Political Persona
Keywords:literary celebrity, theatre, politics, life writing, lecture, memoir
This article examines the fashioning of the authorial persona of British playwright, screenwriter, and director David Hare through autobiographically inflected extra-theatrical interventions. Both exploratory and explanatory companion pieces that frame his artistic work, Hare’s lectures, essays, and memoir capture and stage the field migrations between art and activism that lie at the heart of his public profile as a politically engaged celebrity playwright and astute social commentator. It will be shown how Hare exploits the generic properties of non-fictional life-writing formats that raise, and ostensibly meet, audience expectations of sincerity and authenticity and therefore become ideal vehicles for Hare’s ‘autobiomyth’ of the prophetic writer-propagandist who strives to appeal to the moral conscience of his readership. Hare’s conception of the authorial persona is informed by a Romantic tradition of strong authorship that is intimately connected with truth-telling discourses and that relies on the author’s combined identities of artist and politically engaged commentator. This contribution argues that Hare’s proclivity for non-fictional life-writing formats ties in with a sense of discomfort about his position as a playwright between establishment recognition and self-declared radicalism.
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