TV viewers will get to make up their own minds as David Hare's solo piece, Via Dolorosa, gets an airing on public television. The monodrama premieres Aug. 30 at 9:30 PM (EST) on NY/NJ's Channel 13 (check local listings for schedule).
In 1997, after many invitations, 50-year-old playwright Hare decided to pay a three-week visit to the state of Israel, then celebrating its own 50th birthday. Deeply touched by the experience, he began a memoir which became Via Dolorosa or "Way of Sadness." The play offers a meditation on the time spent in both Israel and Palestine, which leaves the author questioning his own values in the context of the powerful beliefs of those he met.
Hare's solo turn was backed up by two other heavy hitters of the British theatre: director Stephen Daldry and set designer Ian MacNeil. Daldry won a Tony for his direction of the Broadway revival of An Inspector Calls a few seasons back. He was the artistic director of London's Royal Court Theatre from 1992 to 1998, where he mounted Rat in the Skull, This Is a Chair, The Editing Process and Search and Destroy.
MacNeil is Daldry's frequent artistic partner, having designed An Inspector Calls (Tony Award), This Is a Chair and The Editing Process. Another Inspector veteran, Rick Fisher, will do the lighting for Via. The production, which premiered at London's Royal Court Theater in September 1988, opened on Broadway March 18, 1999 for a limited engagement through June 13 of that year. Hare won the 1999 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Solo Performance for the play -- his first acting assignment. Other Hare works include Racing Demon, The Judas Kiss and Amy's View.
The televised Via Dolorosa was filmed, by director John Bailey, before an invited audience at Broadway's Booth Theater in June 1999. The teleplay was produced by BBC Films in association with Lincoln Center Theater, London's Royal Court Theatre and MacNeil/Lehrer Productions.
Via Dolorosa had already achieved a measure of preservation. While original cast recordings are common fare for Broadway musicals, it's not usual practice to burn and release CDs of solo shows on Broadway -- comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Sandra Bernhard being exceptions to the rule. But that's exactly what happened when RCA Victor released a condensed version of the solo in April 1999. The CD, a 77-minute studio recording, was made in London and broadcast over the BBC shortly after the show closed 'cross the pond.
-- By David Lefkowitz
and Sean McGrath