14 Pages

Fanshen: Hare and Brecht

WithJanelle Reinelt

Hare has written the most exemplary epic play of his generation, Fanshen, and has also shown, how a modern appropriation of some epic techniques can produce a dramaturgy unique to the playwright and yet related to the Brechtian project, intentionally or not. Each of the sections in the play has a key action which illustrates some new lesson or event central to the struggle to fanshen in Long Bow. The play asks how the transformation was possible, and shows how it got started, how the community made progress with the help of the Communist Party leadership, and how it was necessary continually to appraise and revise the strategies for accomplishing fanshen. In 1988, the National Theatre mounted a revival of Fanshen, which, as part of the NT Education program, toured to various regional and school venues before opening in London at the Cottesloe. Richard Cave has traced the effect of Fanshen on Hare’s subsequent writing, privileging chronological over thematic development.