Hastings, Michael

Michael Gerald Hastings was a dramatist and screenwriter who was born in London in 1938 and is generally viewed as the youngest member of the dramatists that formed the group of the so-called ‘Angry Young Men’. Hastings grew up in a working-class Jewish family in Lambeth, South London. He was educated at the Imperial Services College, Windsor and Alleyn’s School, Dulwich. Afterwards he began a three-year apprenticeship with a London tailor, before becoming a trainee actor and writer under the aegis of George Devine at the Royal Court Theatre and receiving an early success with Don’t Destroy Me (1956) at the age of only 18. The play was produced at the New Lindsey theatre club in Notting Hill, in the wake of the success of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger (1956). It deals with the emotional turmouil of a British-Jewish working-class teenager and was so succesful that it was subsequently staged in New York in 1957. A year later, Hastings’ second play Yes — And After, about a 14-year old girl sexually abused by an older man, received its premiere at the Royal Court.

Other notable work for the theatre include: Lee Harvey Oswald (Hampstead Theatre Club, 1966), a docudrama about the life of President Kennedy’s assassin, The World’s Baby (Royal Court, 1965), which only had one single Sunday performance, starring Vanessa Redgrave as a woman who announces to a gathering of her pre-war lovers that she is pregnant, without saying by whom. The Emperor, co-written and adapted from a novel by Ryszard Kapuscinski with Jonathan Miller and staged at the Royal Court, provoked a scandal in 1987 due to its controversial depiction of Emperor Haile Selassie. Hasting’s best-known play,Tom and Viv (Royal Court Theatre, 1984), deals with the marriage of T. S. Eliot and his wife Vivienne Haigh-Wood. It was adapted for the screen in 1994.

Hastings died in 2011.

Plays

—. Calico. London: Oberon Books, 2004.

—. Tom and Viv. London: Oberon Books, 2007.

—. Lee Harvey Oswald: A Far Mean Streak of Independence Brought on by Negleck. London: Oberon Books, 2013.

—. The Cutting of the Cloth. London: Oberon Books, 2015.