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Stuff Happens is a play by David Hare, written in response to the Iraq War. Hare describes it as "a history play" that deals with recent history.

The title is inspired by Donald Rumsfeld's response to widespread looting in Baghdad:

"Stuff happens and it’s untidy, and freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things.” (April 11, 2003)

The play presents a mix of viewpoints, including arguments for and against the attack on Iraq, mixing verbatim re-creations of real speeches, meetings and press conferences and fictionalised versions of private meetings between members of the Bush and Blair administrations, and international figures such as Hans Blix and Dominique de Villepin.

An ensemble cast plays over 40 roles during the 3 hour play, although the actors playing the principals—Bush, Rice, Powell—play only one role.


Plot and style

David Hare’s Stuff Happens is a play about the events that led up to the 2003 Iraq War, beginning at about the time of George W. Bush's election in America in 2000. Parts of the dialogue are direct quotes from the characters' real-world counterparts. The author has stated that the dialogue is not “knowingly untrue” but he had to sometimes “use his imagination” to cover events that were not recorded verbatim, admitting that his play is not a documentary as such.[1]

Production history

The world premiere of Stuff Happens opened at the Oliver National Theatre in London on September 1, 2004 [1] and has subsequently been performed at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum (with Keith Carradine and Julian Sands) in June 2005 and at Sydney's Seymour Center (with Rhys Muldoon and Greg Stone) in July 2005. It has also been performed at Western Washington University under the direction of Mark Kuntz in November 2007.

It debuted in New York City in March 2006 at the Public Theatre.[2] Director Daniel Sullivan chose a small venue at the Newman Theater at the Public. This created an atmosphere such “as if the audience too is participating in this re-creation of recent events”.[2]

By 2008, Stuff Happens had been showcased across the globe.

On February 23, 2008, Stuff Happens opened in the Theatre in Katowice, Poland, directed by Andrew S. Paul, of Pittsburgh, Pa, USA.[3]

The Canadian premiere was on March 4, 2008, at the Berkeley St. Theatre in Toronto produced by Studio 180 Theatre, directed by Joel Greenberg.[4]

The play's New England premiere was performed by the Zeitgeist Stage Company in October 2008 - December 2008 and went on to win the Elliott Norton Award for Outstanding Fringe Theatre Production. It was performed by Boston University's School of Theatre in April 2008.[5] The District of Columbia premiere was performed by Georgetown University's undergraduate theatre program.[6]


  1. ^ a b Hare, David. Stuff Happens. New York. Faber and Faber, Inc., 2004. author's note.
  2. ^ a b Brantley, Ben. David Hare's 'Stuff Happens': All the President's Men in 'On the Road to Baghdad'. The New York Times. 14 Apr 2006
  3. ^ Rawson, Christopher. Katowice Journal: Andrew Paul in Poland. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 2 Mar 2008
  4. ^ Ouzounian, Richard. Stuff Happens stirs Iraq debate. 2 Mar 2008
  5. ^
  6. ^

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