Robert Holman, who has died aged 69, was committed to the notion of empathy in art and life, writes his friend and fellow playwright

In Robert Holman’s play Jonah and Otto, Otto says: “I think we learn to love, by loving, by listening to another person. Love is paying attention.” The extraordinary plays that Robert leaves us are full of his wisdom, and full of him. But I think nothing in his plays articulates with more clarity the reason why he was such a wonderful playwright, and a wonderful friend, than Otto’s belief, which Robert certainly shared.

He was sceptical about the notion of a play being driven by ideology or ideas, not because there’s anything necessarily wrong with plays like that. Modestly, he didn’t think he was clever enough to say anything new about history, politics or philosophy. But he felt that “our emotions, our feelings, are always slightly special and different to each of us”.

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