(David Hare’s article ran in the Guardian, October 17.)

It all started 96 hours after 9/11

'Over chicken noodle soup, fried chicken and mashed potatoes, began to yield to the dazzling temptation of deliberately pursuing the wrong suspect. Hey, said the Americans, Let's Look Away'

In theatres up and down the country, it used to be that anyone, whatever their job, was pulled magnetically towards the stage. All through the day they would find themselves venturing down into the auditorium. They would casually try to catch a glimpse of the actors, a glimpse of the action, because that was where their job was rooted. Today, 10 years into the new century, theatre workers, like the rest of us, sit staring at computer screens all day, and sometimes all night. Hardly surprising, then, that this has been the decade of Looking Away.

Visit us, please, from a previous century and you'll see us walking down the streets, wired cockleshells in ears, jabbering like lunatics in a Victorian asylum. It has long been understood in any line at any shopping till that the electronic will take precedence over the physical. The queue will wait while the sales assistant answers the phone. In any given situation, Absence always trumps Presence, presumably on the grounds that the unknown has more potential for excitement than the known. "Is he all there?" we used to ask of our neighbours' idiot children. Now we ask of everyone, "Is he there at all?"

Every period throws up its own favoured means of mass distraction, but you're going to have to pull every history book off the shelf to find a distraction quite as nothing-to-do-with-anything as the US invasion of Iraq. The decade's significant date of choice for most historians is taken to be 11 September 2001. An airborne suicide attack on the twin towers in New York killed 2,948 people of 91 different nationalities. But if I was going to choose the day when the destiny of the new century really took shape, then I'd opt for 96 hours later. On 15 September, George Bush assembled his cabinet in casual clothes at Camp David (Paul Wolfowitz came without invitation and wore a suit) and, over chicken noodle soup, fried chicken and mashed potatoes, began to yield to the dazzling temptation of deliberately pursuing the wrong suspect. Hey, said the Americans, Let's Look Away.

(Read more)


Plus, in conjunction with Hare’s new play ‘The Power of Yes,’ recommendations from the National Theatre on a wide range of books about the current financial crisis–from the perceptive to the shocking to the downright hilarious:

  • The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson, ISBN 9780141035482 £9.99
  • Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed by Paul Mason, ISBN 9781844673964 £7.99
  • Fool's Gold by Gillian Tett, ISBN 9781408701676 £12.99
  • The Storm: The World Economic Crisis and What it Means by Vince Cable, ISBN 9781848870574 £14.99
  • Who Runs Britain?: and Who's to Blame for the Economic Mess We're in, ISBN 9780340839447 £7.99
  • The Crash of 2008 And What It Means, ISBN 9781586486990 £9.99
  • Chasing Alpha by Philip Augar, ISBN 9781847920362 £20.00
  • The Crunch: How Greed and Incompetence Sparked the Credit Crisis by Alex Brummer, ISBN 9781847940094 £7.99
  • House of Cards by William D. Cohan, ISBN 9781846141959 £25.00
  • And The Roof Caved In by David Faber, ISBN 9780470474235 £17.99
  • The Credit Crunch by Graham Turner, ISBN 9780745328102 £14.99
  • The Fall Of Northern Rock by Brian Walters, ISBN 9781905641802 £10.99
  • Good Value: Reflections on Money, Morality and an Uncertain World by Stephen Green, ISBN 9781846142369 £25.00 
  • The Euro: The Politics of the New Global Currency 9780300127300 £25.00 
  • Keynes: The Return Of The Master 9781846142581 £20.00

Visit the National Theatre Web site: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/

(David Hare’s work is included in Duo!: The Best Scenes for Two for the 21st Century from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.)

Visit Stage Voices blog:  http://stagevoices.typepad.com/  

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