David Hare: 'There are no great history-making directors today in British theatre' - News - Theatre & Dance - The Independent

David Hare: 'There are no great history-making directors today in British theatre'

Hare claimed there were no directors changing the face of modern theatre today like Joan Littlewood and Peter Brook did

Joan Littlewood and Peter Brook are revered as theatrical innovators who left a revolutionary mark on the stage. But history will not recall today’s generation of directors, who have failed to match the international impact of their predecessors, the playwright Sir David Hare has claimed.

For all their successes, the likes of Sir Kenneth Branagh and Sam Mendes, have not earned the right to be bracketed alongside Littlewood, who introduced improvisation and working-class language into mainstream theatre and Brook, 88, acclaimed for his radical interpretation of Shakespeare.

Speaking at the National Theatre during a panel discussion on writing, Hare said: “I don’t mean any disrespect to any director who is now working in theatre but there is nobody in the British theatre working today who has changed theatre in the way Joan Littlewood and Peter Brook changed it.”

Sir David, who wrote Plenty, adapted into a film starring Meryl Streep, and media satire Pravda, which features in a 50th anniversary of the National Theatre gala performance on Saturday night, added: “There are no great international directors today in Britain working on that scale whereby they are changing theatre itself.

“There are some very distinguished directors working internationally, but there is nobody whose name is going to go down in the history of theatre in the way Joan Littlewood’s and Peter Brook’s did.”

Littlewood, who died in 2002, established the Theatre Workshop, based in Stratford, and developed the provocative First World War musical satire, Oh! What a Lovely War, which became a Broadway hit.

Adapting ideas from European theatre practitioners and Brecht, Littlewood introduced improvisation techniques into rehearsals and training and toured the UK, determined to bring theatre to working class audiences.

Brook, who continues to work, revolutionised modern British theatre, with his radical staging of The Tempest in 1957 and with his production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1970. He explored further experimental work in Paris, bringing new audiences to productions with an international, multicultural cast of actors.

Asked if he wished to clarify his comments, Sir David said he had nothing to add other than: “Brook and Littlewood changed the nature of theatre. No contemporary director would even claim to have done such a thing.”

During the panel discussion, Sir David added that venues dedicated to new writing are “fertile”, whereas those run in the interests of directors “tend to be sterile”.

He said: “If you run a theatre that is dedicated to new writing one of the wonderfully fertile things that happens is that it creates great directors.

“Whereas, there are a couple of theatres now that are run in the interests of directors and what is interesting is that they don’t produce writers and they rarely produce actors either.”

Hare, who is currently completing a trilogy of British espionage films starring Bill Nighy, added: “There is something about a writer’s theatre which is fertile and there is something about a director’s theatre which tends to be sterile, because directors tend to want to do a familiar repertory of director’s pieces on which they can operate lazily, rather than being challenged by somebody in a room who is producing new work.”

The NT’s Future Questions Platforms continue with discussions on funding and regional theatre next week.

Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall is set to dance with Ola Jordan on Strictly Come Dancing. 'I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' meaning 'even you'!' he said.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sting and Paul Simon on stage together at Carnegie Hall in New York

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week