Political discourse in Britain has devolved toward ludicrousness. Filling the gap is a generation of keen, talented writers presenting weighty ideas on stages across the nation. David Hare's new book is "The Blue Touch Paper: A Memoir" (http://goo.gl/MSnlwG).
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Transcript - The reason the theater is uniquely valuable is because you have to concentrate. In other words you’re hijacked for two hours and you’ve got to turn off your cell phone. You’ve got to stop talking to your neighbor and you’ve actually all got to examine something together. Now some people would and some people will look away while it’s happening and other people will cough, another will head straight for the exit. And some people will not choose to focus. But at a good play what you get is this extraordinary act of concentration. I suppose what I’m talking about is scrutiny. In other words it’s one thing to look at an idea on the page and run it through your brain. But it’s a completely different thing to be in a room where a whole group of people make a moral examination together of actions and words. Now clearly for the next generation after mine who were brought up on television, cinema, video, the moving image, beginning of computers they weren’t really interested in theater. And in England at least it’s not a very distinguished bunch of playwrights that follow mine. However, the young who are now bored stiff with computers, bored stiff with film, bored stiff with television. They actually have taken up theater again. And what we have is a brilliant crop of young writers, a lot of them female, working in Britain. And the theater is being regenerated by the young. And particularly at time when public discourse in Britain at least is so impoverished. And so one track, you know. We eat now for anyone to descend from orthodoxy about neoliberal economics. That the only way of the world advancing is apparently through deregulated markets, cheap labor, you know. If you say anything else, if you start talking about workers’ rights you’re now treated like a lunatic in Britain. They want to put you in a white coat and take you away. And so the theater’s the place where people can look at ideas again. There’s a very beautiful saying of Raymond Williams who was my old tutor. And Raymond Williams once said if people cannot have justice officially they will have it unofficially. And unofficially at the moment means by going to the theater.
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