One night the Jewish settlers portrayed in the monologue came to see the performance. Danny and Sarah Weiss (not their real names) were very angry about how the playwright depicted them. "You missed the point," they told him.
But their reaction was not a surprise to Hare. Indeed, it was as he expected from people who, he said, lived in a bubble.
David Hare described the episode in his diary:
"While writing Via Dolorosa, I consulted many of the people I proposed to portray. I felt a duty to send them pages of dialogue to ask them whether they felt I was being fair. I had no right to stand on the stage and pretend to be Eran Baniel unless I first asked Eran Baniel. In the case of some Palestinians who never appeared in the final text, I was aware that I could endanger their lives were I careless enough to attribute things they had said about Arafat and the Palestinian regime.
"When it came to the settlers, however, I had been so taken aback, and so keen to convey the sharpness of their attitudes, that the only available route was to change their names. I knew that if I sent the authors the text of their remarks they would deny having made them. Settlers live, necessarily, in a bubble of ideological conviction.
"After I had changed, I met them in the small waiting room. I could tell at once they were not happy. The Danny-character said to me: 'You do the show brilliantly. You're brilliant. Like a demagogue. And how many people see it? I am told 600 a night. It hurts me to think that every night you are telling people about Israel, and that they are hearing about it from a man who has entirely missed the point of it. It's such an opportunity. And you get it so wrong.'
"Sarah said 'You come into our house and then you portray us like this. You misrepresent and distort things we said. It's an abuse of hospitality.' I pointed out that I had changed their names. They could hardly challenge the truth of my report, even if they disliked the interpretation… 'Bad man' were the last words I heard as they disappeared down the stairs."
From Acting Up
Copyright: 1999, David Hare
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