All agreed: a season of Hare is something to look forward to

David Hare says: "For the whole of my theatre-going life, Sheffield has been one of the most vibrant and exciting theatre cities in the country. When I ran touring companies, it was high among the gigs you most relished. I can't think of a greater honour for a living playwright than to have three plays simultaneously performed in its three different theatres."

The respect is mutual. Those involved in performing in the trilogy of Hare's plays being staged in Sheffield have been queuing up to heap praise on the writer.

Daniel Evans, the man who has programmed the season, remembers first discovering the playwright's work: "What struck me, apart from the sheer ambition and scope of the plays, was the effortless fusion between the personal and the political. David gets right to the heart of humanity of his characters and their situations with a razor-sharp wit and a rigorously satisfying sense of structure."

Actor Isla Blair, appearing in The Breath of Life, agrees: "He has always been an intensely focussed political writer but in his recent plays he seems more interested in the human choices his characters have to make within a particular political set up. ln The Breath Of Life two women meet to talk about the man they have both loved.

"They display general political differences but the focus of the drama is on the emotional interplay between them – he always writes strong roles for women.

"I was in his political documentary-style drama Stuff Happens – very different from Breath of Life. ln the latter he seems more interested in how we keep alive our humanity in a particular moral context with politics only a part of this context. He's a political writer with a human heart."

A number of actors appearing in the trilogy of plays are long-time fans of the writer. Malcolm Sinclair, president of actors' union Equity, says: "I first worked with David Hare in the premier production of the play on which we are working now, Racing Demon, over twenty years ago. Then last year I appeared in his most recent play, The Power of Yes, at the National. I love doing his stuff.

"He shares with Shaw a love of furious political argument, humour, the surprise at where some of the arguments can lead you and, technically, his writing has a trenchant rhythmic punch, some very good jokes, and a clarity of expression so that quite complicated stories immediately strike home with an audience."

Jane Wymark, who is performing alongside Sinclair, says: "David was the first director I ever worked for. The play was Brassneck at Nottingham Playhouse written by David and Howard Brenton.

"I had come direct from university where I had studied his play Knuckle, I was totally in awe of him. What I remember most are his kindness and patience, he never once made me feel inadequate. As a student I had often been shouted at and belittled – and I assumed it would be similar in the profession.

"David couldn't have been more different, it was like the sun coming out. There was a scene in the play where I had to charge around in the full white meringue. I remember going with David to a local bridal shopt. The lady at Pronuptia was completely bemused as I climbed in and out of wedding frocks and David solemnly considered them."