Monday, January 5, 2009

Harold Pinter

Harold Pinter, CH, CBE, Nobel Laureate (10 October 1930 – 24 December 2008), was an English playwright, screenwriter, actor, director, poet, author, and political activist considered by many "the most influential and imitated dramatist of his generation"

After publishing poetry as a teenager and acting in school plays, Pinter began his theatrical career in the mid-1950s as a repertory actor using the stage name David Baron. Beginning with his first play, The Room (1957), Pinter's writing career spanned over half a century and produced 29 stage plays; 26 screenplays; many dramatic sketches, radio and TV plays; poetry; one novel; other short fiction; and essays, speeches, and letters—many of whose manuscripts are owned and catalogued by the British Library. His best-known works include The Birthday Party (1957), The Caretaker (1959), The Homecoming (1964), and Betrayal (1978), each of which he adapted to film, and his screenplay adaptations of others' works, such as The Servant (1963), The Go-Between (1970), The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), The Trial (1993), and Sleuth (2007). He directed almost 50 stage, television and film productions.[1] Despite frail health since 2001, he continued to act on stage and screen, performing the title role in a critically-acclaimed production of Samuel Beckett's one-act monologue Krapp's Last Tape for the 50th anniversary season of the Royal Court Theatre, in October 2006.

Pinter's dramas often involve strong conflicts among ambivalent characters who struggle for verbal and territorial dominance and for their own versions of the past; stylistically, these works are marked by theatrical pauses and silences, comedic timing, irony, and menace. Thematically ambiguous, they raise complex issues of individual identity oppressed by social forces, language, and vicissitudes of memory. Although Pinter publicly eschewed applying the term "political theatre" to his own work in 1981, he began writing overtly political plays in the mid-1980s, reflecting his own heightening political interests and changes in his personal life. This "new direction" in his work and his left-wing political activism stimulated additional critical debate about Pinter's politics. Pinter, his work, and his politics have been the subject of voluminous critical commentary.

In addition to the Nobel Prize in Literature and the French Légion d'honneur, Pinter received 19 honorary degrees and numerous other prizes and awards. Academic institutions and performing arts organizations have devoted symposia, festivals, and celebrations to him and his work, in recognition of his cultural influence and achievements across genres and media. In awarding Pinter's Nobel Prize, instigating some public controversy and criticism, the Swedish Academy cited him for being "generally regarded as the foremost representative of British drama in the second half of the 20th century" and noted: "That he occupies a position as a modern classic is illustrated by his name entering the language as an adjective used to describe a particular atmosphere and environment in drama: 'Pinteresque' " ("Biobibliographical Notes")—a word he despised and found meaningless. Two weeks after having to withdraw from the honorary degree ceremony at the Central School of Speech and Drama because of illness and receiving it in absentia ("Degree Honour"), Harold Pinter died from cancer and was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, in London

This is a link to Mr. Pinter's powerful and compelling speech given in honor of receiving The Nobel Prize in Literature.

Harold Pinter Nobel Prize Speech 2005. Art, Truth, Politics.

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