Brian Haw: the West End show

First came the demonstration, then it was the exhibition, now it's...

In June 2001, a former carpenter from Kent pitched a tent in Parliament Square to stage a one-man protest against a New Labour government he felt was increasingly impervious to public opinion.

Nearly seven years on, Brian Haw is still camped outside the Commons. His anti-war campaign has not only gripped the nation but has made him the subject of Mark Wallinger's Turner Prize-winning installation, State Britain, inspired Banksy to donate a "graffiti art" protest banner and won Channel 4's "political figure of the year" award.

Now, in the latest dramatisation of his epic struggle against the Government's stance on the Iraq war and the erosion of civil liberties, comes Brian Haw, the West End play.

The State We're In, starring Samuel West and Raquel Cassidy, is based on Mr Haw's political struggle and the sacrifices he has had to make in his personal life. It opens today at London's Trafalgar Studios as a one-off rehearsed reading. It is hoped that it will earn a longer run on a West End stage later this year.

Mr Haw, the son of a Second World War soldier, has a wife and seven children with whom he has not lived for several years.

He began his protest over the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq and came to personify the anti-war movement after the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, building up a protest encampment of 600 banners, photographs, flags and messages.

On 23 May 2006, following the passing by Parliament of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act banning unauthorised demonstrations within a one kilometre radius of Parliament Square, most of the protest display was removed. Wallinger, however, immortalised it in his detailed replication of the encampment, which was placed in Tate Britain's Duveen Galleries last year and won the Turner Prize.

Zia Trench, who wrote the play, said it was based around the curious and "iconic" figure of Mr Haw. "There is a messianic illusion around him; there is something so Jesus-like about him," she said. "He has taken on our fight but what has this cost him? The play looks at the man behind the protest and how battles fought for liberty can cost a man his wife, home and sanity."

She first came across Mr Haw when she interviewed him alongside the politician Tony Benn, while working as a journalist. "I'm not saying it's his life story but it is exploring the idea of someone who is obsessed with a cause on which he can't back down. In the play, his wife comes to visit him but leaves him after six years because she can't handle it, which is of course, fictionalised. At first, she is very proud that her man is going out to stop the war but by the end she feels she is growing old without her husband," said Ms Trench.

Poppy Burton-Morgan, who directed the play, said Samuel West had been keen to dramatise Mr Haw's struggle and the protester's "right to speak out".

Mr Haw, who will speak at the Oxford University Student Union on 7 February, said yesterday: "I came as an individual but things have moved on. I have been joined by other people living in the same circumstance. What it amounts to is the power of one. What I'm showing is that the individual can make a difference."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones