After one May performance, Hare agreed to have 25 Palestinians back to the green room after the show.
A Palestinian man in his 50s came over and said he found the play very disturbing because the Israelis were presented as real human beings, "warm, complicated, rounded." Whereas the Palestinians were shown as "flat, caricatured, and boring."
Hare tried to defuse the situation by reminding the man that they were at a party, not a discussion group. But his critic did not back down. "Because your own wife is Jewish, you extend a sympathy to the Israelis which you don't extend to us. You make Jews out to be real people. But you don't show us in the same way. You're biased."
Hare shook with anger. "I said it was offensive to me to accuse me of bad faith. I had spent a very long time writing the show and even more time preparing to perform it. He was the first person-- Palestinian or not-- ever to make this particular complaint."
The others in the group were embarrassed. "One woman said, 'Well I'm Palestinian and I don't know what our friend here is talking about. It was a sympathetic portrayal of our people -- it's the first one there's ever been.' The Palestinian Representative (he would be the Ambassador if Palestine was a state) was shifting from foot to foot, putting his hand on my arm and saying, 'It's one man's opinion, David. It isn't anyone else's.'"
The situation eventually cooled off and some Palestinians tried to compensate. Some expressed honest reservations about specific parts of the monologue, which Hare did not mind. "When one man queried whether turds floated down the streets of Gaza, it seemed to me a perfectly fair thing to ask, since it was coming from someone who had no desire to grandstand, or show off."
Excerpts from Acting Up
Copyright: 1999, David Hare
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