Tag Archives: David Hare


THE WHITE CROW—the story of Rudolf Nureyev‘s student years in Leningrad, his first trip to Paris and performances at Palais Garnier, and his defection at La Bourget airport—was directed by and co-stars Ralph Fiennes, who wrote a filmmaker’s letter for the Landmark about the experience:

“Although I had no great interest in ballet and I didn’t know much about Nureyev, I was gripped by the story of his early life. His youth in Ufa in central Russia in the 1940s, his student years studying dance in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, and then culminating in his decision to defect to the West in 1961. That story got under my skin… and sat with me as a great possibility for a film. I didn’t really see myself directing it. It was just the idea. It’s so dramatic and is about so many things. It has an interior personal dynamic, the drive to realize himself and the ruthlessness that goes with it. It’s also within the context of the ideological divide between East and West at the height of the Cold War. It was that character, that will of Nureyev’s that made him realize who he was—an artist that really grabbed me.

David Hare was our ideal writer. David writes what I call ‘high-definition,’ provocative characters who have strong contrasting elements that are challenging for an audience. He writes those big spirits and he writes them brilliantly. Also, David is known for writing things that have a strong political and social context. He has an instinctive understanding of the political climate in our story. I feel I have a good connection with David. We batted many ideas back and forth, feeling the temperature and the tone and the shifts of what we wanted to do. It was very inspiring to sit with him and wrangle the challenges of structure and drama. We asked ourselves, ‘What was the essential story we were trying to tell?’ We were clear this was the story of young Rudolf’s defection. I first thought it should be linear. What emerged in our discussion was the three time frame structure: Paris 1961, the Leningrad years from 1955 to 1961, and the childhood years in the late ‘40s. These time frames interweave giving us a portrait of the evolution of this boy and leading us to a point at La Bourget in June ’61. The timeframes come together at this point.

“We employed two casting directors in Russia to do a big sweep which ended up with four or five candidates, and I identified this young Ukrainian dancer, Oleg Ivenko, from the Tartar State Ballet company. I felt he had a latent acting ability and he is a strong ballet dancer who has a physical proximity to Nureyev. When I did the screen tests, I could see that Oleg picked up immediately on direction. If I demonstrated something, he got it very quickly. A couple of times I would say ‘No, this is what I want’ and I would demonstrate an attitude or a feeling and he very quickly got it. There was something about the way he sat in front of the camera, some ‘X factor’ that made me think ‘That could be Rudi.’ I pushed him to understand the best screen acting is rooted in being really present and in the moment. You’re reacting and listening, so the thing to get him to feel is: Don’t show me you’re angry or shy or irritated or whatever; just feel it, be it. Have it inside. If you really have it or are close to having it, it will reveal itself. It sounds quite simple, but it’s hard to be really present and the beauty of his work is that he is very present. It’s an uncluttered performance. He was very generous and allowed me to steer him a bit, but he has a real pure screen acting instinct.” — Ralph Fiennes

The film is based on Nureyev: The Life, by Julie Kavanaugh, who uncovered the importance of Teja Kremke, the East German dancer who triggered Nureyev’s move to the West.


Now playing

Arclight Hollywood

6360 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.


10850 Pico Boulevard, West Los Angeles.

From top: Oleg Ivenko and Ralph Fiennes on set, The White Crow; Fiennes (left) as ballet master Alexander Pushkin, with Ivenko as Rudolf Nureyev (center); Ivenko, with Louis Hofmann as Teja Kremke; Ivenko, in Paris with Adèle Exarchopoulos as Clara Saint; Ivenko in Paris. Images courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.


This is the final week of the local production of THE JUDAS KISS, David Hare‘s brilliant take on the last years of Oscar Wilde and his doomed relationship with Alfred, Lord Douglas—known to Wilde and the world as “Bosie.”

The play is directed by Michael Michetti, and Rob Nagle‘s uncanny portrayal of the iconoclastic Irish playwright is definitive.


Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday

March 18, 21, 22, and 23, at 8 pm.

Saturday and Sunday, March 23 and 24, at 2 pm.

Boston Court Pasadena

70 North Mentor Avenue, Pasadena.

From top: Rob Nagle, (right) as Oscar Wilde, and Colin Bates, as Alfred, Lord Douglas, in The Judas Kiss; Bates, Kurt Kanazawa, and Nagle; Nagle (left) and Darius de la Cruz. Photographs by Jenny Graham, courtesy of Boston Court Pasadena.


“I have to tell you that a very special little world has died, and I am the designated mourner. Oh yes, you see, it’s an important custom in many groups and tribes. Someone is assigned to grieve, to wail, and light the public ritual fire. Someone is assigned when there’s no one else.” — Jack (Wallace Shawn)

So begins THE DESIGNATED MOURNER (directed by André Gregory), a droll satire written and played by Shawn as an extended, Buñuelesque retelling of an adventure, an interval, that Shawn’s character has somehow survived.

When first produced in London in 1996 (in the middle of the Clinton administration), and in New York City four years later (months before the selection of George W. Bush), the unidentified setting of the play resembled an Eastern European or Latin American country descending into totalitarianism. But as fake news sends entire countries over the brink, one imagines the current revival located somewhere in the vicinity of the District of Columbia.

Judy (played by short-story writer Deborah Eisenberg, mesmerizing) and her father Howard (Larry Fine), disenchanted with the power elite they were born into, live in self-exile in an unprotected neighborhood on the edge of town—Howard writing, Judy reading, a picture of intellectual isolation. Jack (Shawn) is Judy’s husband, a chatty, selfish, very funny non-entity—“a vague hanger-on,” in his words—who was once an active participant in his marriage. But having grown tired of everyone and everything, Jack is content, finally, to sit on a park bench and explain his life away.

Jack is a stand-in for us, the contemporary theater audience, a loose, inept affiliation of alienated over-thinkers, slowly losing grip on every lever of power, watching the distance once afforded by our stage-managed political divisions—this is happening to those people over there—disappear.

“I thought about all the sincere consideration which I gave to the future, to my plans, you know, and all the solemn concern I lavished each day on the events of my past—my “memories,” as we call them, wiping away a few tears—and I wondered: Was all this really tremendously valuable? Or was it perhaps just a bit unnecessary, when you consider the fact—rather often overlooked—that the past and the future don’t actually exist? I sit around thinking about them from morning till night, but, you know, where are they? Where are they?” — Wallace Shawn, THE DESIGNATED MOURNER



REDCAT, Disney Hall, downtown Los Angeles



This REDCAT revival of THE DESIGNATED MOURNER reunites the original New York cast and director from 2000. The film version of the London production—with Mike Nichols, Miranda Richardson, and David de Keyser, and directed by David Hare—was released in 1997.

Larry Pine, Wallace Shawn, and Deborah Eisenberg in The Designated Mourner Image credit: REDCAT

Larry Pine, Wallace Shawn, and Deborah Eisenberg in The Designated Mourner
Image credit: REDCAT