Back on June 7, 1999, the New York Times reported that a Los Angeles playwright and actor, Steven Greenstein, filed a federal lawsuit claiming that David Hare's solo performance, Via Dolorosa, misappropriated some dialogue, ideas, and its structure from a play written by the plaintiff.
The civil suit, which was filed in May 1999 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, charged that London's Royal Court Theater rejected Greenstein’s one-act play, titled Voices From the Holy ... and Not So Holy Land, in 1997 and then usurped many of its elements for Hare's solo look at Jewish and Arab areas of Israel last season. Greenstein's suit pointed out that like Voices, Dolorosa is a one-act monologue performed by the author, who portrays the people encountered on a trip to the Holy Land. Both plays are said to explore the Arab-Israeli conflict from a Western perspective.
However, according to the Times (April 26), Federal District Court Judge Denny Chin decided, on April 21, that the lawsuit was baseless and the two plays “are completely different.” Chin apparently pointed out that Via Dolorosa is about Hare’s own personal trip, whereas Greenstein’s play is a work of fiction. As for some similarities between the two works, Chin added that was to be expected, considering that the topic was politics in the Middle East.
The suit, which asked for unspecified damages, named only the Royal Court as the defendant and not Hare. Interestingly enough, the suit never used the term, "plagiarism," and did not accuse Hare of wrongdoing. However, the suit did note that Dolorosa director, Stephen Daldry was the artistic director of the Royal Court, when Greenstein's script was submitted his script in late 1996.
Though relieved by the decision, author Hare told the Times the lawsuit has already held up a PBS broadcast of the show. “We’ve been hamstrung by this litigation,” he said. “From this tenuous claim you can actually hold up a project for ten months and cost the Royal Court $40,000 in legal fees, which it doesn’t have.” For his part, playwright Greenstein told the Times, “I am disappointed. I think that my claim was legitimate.”