PLAYWRIGHT Sir David Hare will speak about the towns in East Sussex that are close to his heart as Hastings launches its first literary festival.

At Hastings Litfest, the author of the memoir The Blue Touch Paper, screenplays of the movies The Hours and The Reader, and the writer of TV dramas Damage, Denial and Collateral will talk about St Leonards, where he was born, and Bexhill-on-Sea, where he was brought up.

Above: Julian Sands

Below: Sir David Hare

He is the patron of the festival, which is about writing for writers and as a passionate advocate of the power of writing – and the need for writers to use this power to speak honestly and openly – about politics, about emotions, about relationships and about truth, he will also discuss the importance of writing.

He says, “Our aim is to provide a space and opportunity for writers to explore their voices, discover their creativity and to find ways in which they can pursue their ability to express themselves in writing.”

Sir David, one of the greatest British post-war playwrights, will officially launch the festival at its opening ceremony at the Opus Theatre on August 31. During the event, the actor Julian Sands will read a personal selection of pieces that have particular meaning for him, including work by Sir David.

Julian, star of such films as A Room with a View, Warlock, Leaving Las Vegas and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is a long-term friend and colleague of Sir David and played Tony Blair in the National Theatre’s 2016 revival of his play about the invasion of Iraq, Stuff Happens.

Sir David will visit Kino Teatr in St Leonards on September 1 to introduce a special screening of Oscar-winning film The Hours, starring Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman, for which he wrote the screenplay.

During the festival, which runs from Friday August 31 to Sunday September 2, there will also be workshops including Developing Your Creativity Children’s Workshop, Marketing and Promotion for Authors, Scriptwriting and Research for Historical Fiction.

Among the award-winning and top-selling authors talking about their latest publications and their approach to writing are feminist author Mavis Cheek, writer of historical fiction Rachel Malik, PhD researcher and activist Rianna Walcott, writer and biologist Simon Mawer, prize-winning novelist Sophie Hannah, short story writer David Gaffney, writer and critic Michael Arditti, novelist Patrick Gale, writer Nicolette Jones and novelist and journalist Maggie Alderson, plus panel discussions on crime fiction and writing for children and young adults.

There’s also a chance to take part in competitions including a crime novel competition, a short story competition and sports journalism competitions.

Hastings Litfest runs from Friday August 31 until Sunday September 1 at various venues.