David Hare: ‘There is an awful lot of pious theatre at the moment’

The playwright on branching out into poetry, contemporaries he admires and his need to challenge audiences’ beliefs

David Hare, 75, is the author of more than 30 stage plays, many of them dealing with politics and major British institutions, including Plenty, Racing Demon, Stuff Happens and The Absence of War. He has also written (and sometimes directed) numerous screenplays and television series such as Collateral and Roadkill. We Travelled, just published in paperback, brings together reminiscences, reflections on his ideal theatre, political polemic and tributes to some of the artists he admires – as well as a selection of his poetry, published for the first time.

What led you to write – and now publish – poetry?
I started writing poetry because [my wife] Nicole [Farhi, the fashion designer turned sculptor] complained that I never wrote about her. And I said, considering the kind of writer I was, it was probably a great compliment! I began with love poetry and then expanded from there. I published it privately as a 70th birthday present to myself… There is obviously a poetry establishment in this country [and] people said I was very brave to write poetry when I knew nothing about “the state of poetry”.

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