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BLUE TOUCH PAPER: A Memoir
Bibliophile price: £1.00
Playwright David Hare wanted to reform society from the very beginning. Applying to Cambridge in the hope of being taught by the socialist thinker Raymond Williams, he found that Williams never turned up for tutorials, but Hare soon found his niche directing radical plays including Eliot's Sweeney and Joan Littlewood's Oh What A Lovely War. On leaving Cambridge he moved into a bedsit in London's sleazy Seven Dials, and with his friend Tony Bicat he summoned up the nerve to ask Peter Brook for advice on how to set up a theatre company. Disillusioned by London's National Theatre with its vast expanses of concrete, Brook warned them off real-estate, and the result was the touring company Portable Theatre. Some lucky connections took Hare as literary manager to the Royal Court, with its "more mainstream aesthetic" presided over by the "abrasive iconoclast" Lindsay Anderson. Meanwhile Hare met Trevor Griffiths and Howard Brenton, with both of whom he would collaborate as the enfants terribles of theatre in the 70s. Hare was gradually discovering a vocation for writing rather than directing, and when Richard Eyre became Artistic Director of Nottingham Playhouse Hare got his chance with major commissions. Meanwhile back in London Teeth 'n' Smiles starring Helen Mirren was making headlines. Hare's marriage to Margaret Matheson foundered following his affair with leading lady Kate Nelligan, and the memoir takes us to 1979 and his second marriage to the designer Nicole Farhi. 346pp, b/w photos.

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