A tale of two Davids
I really should have taken a selfie. Me with David Hare and Nicholas Hytner. Damn my reticence. And the previous evening, me with David Glass.
I was bold enough to ask Hare and Hytner to read my play, which would take them, well, a quick cup of coffee through the first scene. A selfie takes what? One fiftieth of a second?
They must get asked to read plays by wannabes like myself at every event and book signing they do, so I expected what I got. David explained that having read a thousand scripts during his time at the Royal Court he couldn’t face another, which is fair enough. Nicholas gave me his email address at the Bridge Theatre, but warned that he might not have time – a gracious fib, I think.
I didn’t intend this blog to be a bleat. What I wanted to say was how good it was to hear these old friends talking so eruditely and entertainingly. They made their audience feel intelligent. They voiced clear opinions born of experience. They railed against the philistinism and incompetence of our government. I didn’t take notes, but I did buy their books.
Another thing David Hare railed against was “director’s theatre”. Once upon a time Peter Brook created magic on stage, and genuinely broke new ground with Marat/Sade, and his Midsummer Night’s Dream. But over time, said David, that kind of invention became in other peoples’ hands, and possibly even in Brooks’s own, self indulgent, and disrespectful of both authors and audiences. Hare stands for intelligent scripted plays that find the emotions causing and caused by real social and historical change.
I went to the event a day after seeing a scratch performance by another David, David Glass. Called Silence, it was a meta-play, a play about theatre, in which Glass wrote, played and directed a character called Wilson Speculum, a monster genius theatre director whose demise and resurrection stands as a metaphor for – well, you name it. The death of love, of creativity, of David Glass… I don’t know. What I do know is that it was post-modern, self-referential, and drew on The Devine Comedy and other artforms, notably film. It’s a work in progress. A generation ago it would have been avant garde. These days there is no garde to be avant of, and I found it intriguing, watchable and funny, but strangely dated.
It was director’s theatre par excellence. Something I am miles away from being able to create or even conceive. I am temperamentally closer to David Hare than Glass, with the tiniest fraction of the talent of either. But I’d love to hear a conversation between the two Davids.