25
Dec
08

r.i.p. harold pinter

politically engaged playwright, who famously dissed bush & blair when accepting the nobel prize in 2005

Mr. Pinter’s ranking among his countrymen was first after Beckett. Beginning in the late 1950s, John Osborne and Mr. Pinter helped to turn English theater away from the gentility of the drawing room. With “Look Back in Anger,” Osborne opened the door for several succeeding generations of angry young men, who railed against the class system and an ineffectual government. Mr. Pinter was to have the more lasting effect as an innovator and a stylist. And his influence on other playwrights, including David Mamet in the United States and Patrick Marber and Jez Butterworth in England, is undeniable.

The playwright Tom Stoppard said that before Mr. Pinter, “One thing plays had in common: you were supposed to believe what people said up there. If somebody comes in and says, ‘Tea or coffee?’ and the answer is ‘Tea,’ you are entitled to assume that somebody is offered a choice of two drinks, and the second person has stated a preference.” With Mr. Pinter there are alternatives, “such as the man preferred coffee but the other person wished him to have tea,” Mr. Stoppard said, “or that he preferred the stuff you make from coffee beans under the impression that it was called tea.”

i’ve seen the servant and the quiller memorandum, which are worth a look. french lieuteneant’s woman didn’t work for me. i think his plays were the thing.

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