Academic journal article British and American Studies


Academic journal article British and American Studies


Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Since the 1990s, and particularly after the events of 9/11, it is highly popular among theatre-goers to see a play that covers national and international issues. It seems that the popularity of political plays will carry on in the first quarter of the twenty-first century. This paper presents a literary analysis of Via Dolorosa, which is one of the hottest political plays by David Hare. Billington (2009:387) delineates the play as "a brilliant piece of subjective reportage... so moving". It is not only authentic with its technical style and rendition, but also with its vivid and gripping subject matter.

In fact, David Hare, who is one of Britain's most prolific political playwrights, has been using national and international fresh political material in his multi-coloured drama to meet the demands of theatre-goers for forty years. As a pioneer social commentator, Hare displays that the stage is a kind of place where playwrights give political lectures. According to him, a playwright must reject being didactic on current politics and their effects on the human beings, because the audience merely needs to hear the pure facts from a dutiful and responsible playwright. He simply aims at keeping his audience aware about what happens in and out of Britain. Thus, he is against a kind of drama without socio-political concerns. He states that:

To be interested in politics is just part of being grown up. I hate the childishness of the theatre. A lot of people love the theatre as a sort of play pen, or a sort of kindergarten for the psychiatrist. I hate those kinds of evenings. I believe history has a great effect on who you are and how you think... it mystifies me why so many playwrights write in bell jars, where there is no sense of what society is like outside, where there is no sense of which historical events affect the emotions and thoughts of the characters on the stage. (Gaston 1993:217-218)

Hare believes that over the past fifteen years there is a common sense all around the world that unlike theatre, the media is not a trustful establishment. Moreover, he asserts that "theatre is not journalism. The mistake is to imagine that simply because it can incorporate real-life material, so it can be judged by similar criteria" (Luckhurst 2008:210). For this reason, David Hare's "dramaturgical strategies reflect his political interpretations of his environment. His body of work reflects his method of theatricalising politics" (Oliva 1990:155) without journalism. As he always involves himself in very contemporary political issues, he considers himself as a dramatist of political history plays.

Therefore, this paper also focuses on political issues between Israel and Palestine through the lens of David Hare. The playwright seems to inform his audience about the current political issues of the Middle East through his play, Via Dolorosa. In this respect Billington (2009:387) summarizes the political background of the play saying that:

As a good reporter, Hare told us a lot about life in the Middle-East. About the conflicts within, as well as between, the Israeli and Palestinian communities. About the gulf between secular, liberal Jews and those families living in the Occupied Territories... About the contrast between the epidemic corruption of Yaser Arafat's PLO and the intellectual rigour of Arab intellectuals.

But, it is restrictive and illusive to analyse the subject matter of Via Dolorosa just within its political background. Behind the pure and valuable social and political information that Hare shares with his audience, the play is exceptional with its thought-provoking and humanistic riietoric on the notion of faith and the meaninglessness of life, especially in the West. In that sense, the paper particularly concentrates on what faith and fidelity mean for both Israelis and Palestinians. Therefore, this paper separates Via Dolorosa technically from the former nonfiction or documentary works of the playwright and focuses on its outstanding themes of faith and fidelity. …

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