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haroldpinter - Man Western

Harold Pinter


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Harold Pinter, CH, CBE (10 October 1930 – 24 December 2008), was an English playwright, screenwriter, actor, theatre director, poet, left-wing political activist, cricket enthusiast, and Nobel laureate.[1][2][3] He was one of the most influential and imitated of modern British dramatists.[4][5] Pinter's writing career spanned over 50 years and produced 29 original stage plays, 27 screenplays, many dramatic sketches, radio and TV plays, poetry, one novel, short fiction, essays, speeches, and letters. His best-known plays include The Birthday Party (1957), The Caretaker (1959), The Homecoming (1964), and Betrayal (1978), each of which he adapted to film. His screenplay adaptations of others' works include 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 and acted extensively in radio, stage, television, and film productions of his own and others' works.[6]

Pinter's dramas often involve strong conflicts between 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.[7][8] In 1981, Pinter stated that he was not inclined to write plays explicitly about political subjects; yet in the mid 1980s he began writing overtly political plays. This "new direction" in his work and his left-wing political activism stimulated additional critical debate. Pinter, his work, and his politics have been the subject of voluminous critical commentary.[9]

Pinter received over 50 awards, prizes, and other honours,[10] including the Tony Award for Best Play for The Homecoming in 1967, eight BAFTA awards for screenwriting and a BAFTA Fellowship in 1997,[11] the French Légion d'honneur in 2007, and 20 honorary degrees. Festivals and symposia have been devoted to him and his work. In awarding Pinter the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2005, the Swedish Academy noted: "Harold Pinter is generally seen as the foremost representative of British drama in the second half of the 20th century. 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'."[12]

Despite frail health after being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in December 2001, Pinter continued to act on stage and screen, last performing the title role of Samuel Beckett's one-act monologue Krapp's Last Tape, for the 50th anniversary season of the Royal Court Theatre, in October 2006.[5] He died from liver cancer on 24 December 2008. The following week he was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, in North West London.

Contents [hide]
1 Biography
1.1 Early life and education
1.2 Sport and friendship
1.3 Early theatrical training and stage experience
1.4 Marriages and family life
1.5 Civic activities and political activism
2 Career
2.1 As actor
2.2 As director
2.3 As playwright
2.3.1 "Comedies of menace" (1957–1968)
2.3.2 "Memory plays" (1968–1982)
2.3.3 Overtly political plays and sketches (1980–2000)
2.4 As screenwriter
2.5 2001–2008
3 Posthumous events
3.1 Funeral
3.2 Memorial tributes
3.3 Being Harold Pinter
4 Honours
4.1 Nobel Prize and Nobel Lecture
4.2 Légion d'honneur
5 Scholarly response
6 Pinter research collections
7 See also
8 Notes
9 Works cited and further reading
10 External links

BiographyEarly life and educationPinter was born on 10 October 1930, in Hackney, east London, to Jewish, lower-middle class, native-English parents of Eastern-European ancestry: his father, Jack Pinter (1902–1997) was a ladies' tailor; his mother, Frances (née Moskowitz; 1904–1992), a homemaker who was a "good cook".[13] Pinter believed an aunt's erroneous view that the family was Sephardic and had fled the Spanish Inquisition; thus, for his early poems, Pinter used the pseudonym Pinta and at other times used variations such as da Pinto.[14] Later research by Antonia Fraser, Pinter's second wife, revealed the legend to be apocryphal; three of Pinter's grandparents came from Poland and the fourth from Odessa, so the family was Ashkenazic.[14][15][16]

He was evacuated from the family home in London—"a solid, red-brick, three-storey villa just off the noisy, bustling, traffic-ridden thoroughfare of the Lower Clapton Road"—to Cornwall and Reading in 1940 and 1941.[17] The "life-and-death intensity of daily experience" before and during the Blitz left Pinter with profound memories "of loneliness, bewilderment, separation and loss: themes that are in all his works."[18]

Although he was an only child, Pinter discovered his social potential as a student at Hackney Downs School, a London grammar school, between 1944 and 1948. "Partly through the school and partly through the social life of Hackney Boys' Club ... he formed an almost sacerdotal belief in the power of male friendship. The friends he made in those days—most particularly Henry Woolf, Michael (Mick) Goldstein and Morris (Moishe) Wernick—have always been a vital part of the emotional texture of his life."[16][19] A major influence on Pinter was his inspirational English teacher Joseph Brearley, who directed him in school plays and with whom he took long walks, talking about literature.[20] According to Pinter's official authorised biographer Michael Billington, under Brearley's instruction, "Pinter shone at English, wrote for the school magazine and discovered a gift for acting."[21][22] He played Romeo and Macbeth, in 1947 and 1948, in productions directed by Brearley.[23]

At the age of 12, Pinter began writing poetry, and in Spring 1947, his poetry was first published in the Hackney Downs School Magazine.[24] In 1950, his poetry was first published outside the school magazine in Poetry London, some of it under the pseudonym "Harold Pinta".[25][26]

Sport and friendshipPinter enjoyed running and broke the Hackney Downs School sprinting record.[27][28] He was an avid cricket enthusiast, taking his bat with him when evacuated during the Blitz.[29] In 1971 he told Mel Gussow: "one of my main obsessions in life is the game of cricket—I play and watch and read about it all the time."[30] He was chairman of the Gaieties Cricket Club, a lifetime support[er] of Yorkshire Cricket Club,[31] and devoted an entire section of his official website to the sport.[32] One wall of his study was dominated by a portrait of himself as a young man playing cricket: "The painted Mr. Pinter, poised to swing his bat, has a wicked glint in his eye; testosterone all but flies off the canvas."[33][34] Pinter approved of the "urban and exacting idea of cricket as a bold theatre of aggression."[35] After his death, several of his school contemporaries recalled his achievements in sports, especially cricket and running.[36] The BBC Radio 4 memorial tribute included an essay on Pinter and cricket.[37]

Other interests that Pinter mentioned to interviewers are family, love and sex, drinking, writing, and reading.[38] According to Billington, "If the notion of male loyalty, competitive rivalry and fear of betrayal forms a constant thread in Pinter's work from The Dwarfs onwards, its origins can be found in his teenage Hackney years. Pinter adores women, enjoys flirting with them, worships their resilience and strength. But, in his early work especially, they are often seen as disruptive influences on some pure, Platonic ideal of male friendship: one of the most crucial of all Pinter's lost Edens."[16][39]

Early theatrical training and stage experience
Harold Pinter, alias David BaronBeginning in late 1948, Pinter attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for two terms, but hating the school, missed most of his classes, feigned a nervous breakdown, and dropped out in 1949.[40] In 1948 he was also "called up for National Service", registered as a conscientious objector, was brought to trial twice, and was ultimately fined by the magistrate for refusing to serve.[41] He had a small part in the Christmas pantomime Dick Whittington and His Cat at the Chesterfield Hippodrome in 1949 to 1950.[42] From January to July 1951, he attended the Central School of Speech and Drama.[43]

From 1951 to 1952, he toured Ireland with the Anew McMaster repertory company, playing over a dozen roles.[44] In 1952 he began acting in regional English repertory productions; from 1953 to 1954, he worked for the Donald Wolfit Company, King's Theatre, Hammersmith, performing eight roles.[45][46] From 1954 until 1959, Pinter acted under the stage name David Baron.[47][48] In all, Pinter played nearly 25 roles under that name.[48][49] To supplement his income from acting, Pinter worked as a waiter, a postman, a bouncer, and a snow-clearer, meanwhile "harbouring ambitions as a poet and writer."[50] In October 1989 Pinter recalled: "I was in English rep as an actor for about 12 years. My favourite roles were undoubtedly the sinister ones. They're something to get your teeth into."[51] During that period, he also performed occasional roles in his own and others' works (for radio, TV, and film), as he did later as well.[48][52]

Marriages and family lifeFrom 1956 until 1980, Pinter was married to Vivien Merchant, an actress whom he met on tour,[8] perhaps best known for her performance in the 1966 film Alfie. Their son, Daniel, was born in 1958.[53] Through the early 1970s, Merchant appeared in many of Pinter's works, most notably The Homecoming on stage (1965) and screen (1973), but the marriage was turbulent.[54] For seven years, from 1962 to 1969, Pinter was engaged in a clandestine "on-off affair" with BBC-TV presenter and journalist Joan Bakewell, which inspired his 1978 play Betrayal,[55] and also throughout that period and beyond seeing an American socialite, whom he nicknamed "Cleopatra", another secret he kept from both his wife and Bakewell.[56] Initially, in 1978, the play was thought to be a response to his later affair with historian Antonia Fraser, the wife of Hugh Fraser, and Pinter's "marital crack-up".[57] As Billington showed, however, the play was actually inspired by Pinter's earlier affair ...
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