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September 19, 2009

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Financial crisis proves quite a hit for writers

GREED, hubris, vast fortunes erased at a stroke -- the financial crisis is dramatic gold dust for writers.

One of Britain's leading playwrights, David Hare, is tackling the world of toxic securities and subprime mortgages in his new play at the National Theatre in London.

Author Sebastian Faulks has a new best-seller about a swashbuckling hedge fund trader. And the BBC has made a TV drama about the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

You may think stocks, derivatives and collateralized debt obligations are not the natural stuff of drama. Think again, says National Theatre artistic director Nicholas Hytner, who commissioned Hare's play, "The Power of Yes."

"The people who suffer this recession will not be the people who caused it," Hytner said. "And there you have the beginnings of a play."

A year after Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy, artists on both sides of the Atlantic are grappling with the causes and effects of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Michael Moore stormed the Venice and Toronto film festivals with "Capitalism: A Love Story," a documentary screed against financial fat-cats and corporate profiteers.

A central character of Faulks' novel "A Week in December" is a hedge fund manager plotting a deal that will make him a fortune, and bring down a bank.

The BBC has just aired "The Last Days of Lehman Brothers," a docudrama that starred James Cromwell as then-United States Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, refusing to intervene as the investment house imploded under the weight of its debts.

In a touch of irony, the fictional account was filmed in Lehman Brothers' real, and now empty, high-rise offices in London's Canary Wharf.


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