Harold Pinter: a lifetime of art and speaking out

Harold Pinter delivering his Nobel Prize acceptance speech by video

Harold Pinter delivering his Nobel Prize acceptance speech by video

Harold Pinter, who died this past Christmas Eve at the age of 78, was not only an acclaimed playwright, actor, director and poet, he was an activist who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind.  He was also someone who saw how art could be used as a tool for social change and recognized, as an artist, some of the deceptive staging tricks employed by oppressors.

When he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, he used his acceptance speech to speak out against the war in Iraq as well as American and British imperialism in general.  Always a man of the theatre (it was revealed this week that Pinter even wrote stage directions for his own funeral), Pinter not only spoke of the imperialist policies and their effect, but also of the sick theatrics used to disguise what is actually going on.  He even plays George Bush’s script writer at one point.  This week, Democracy Now played this speech, called “Art, Truth and Politics” in two parts which you can read, watch or listen to here and here.

Shortly after wining the Nobel, the New York Theatre Workshop cancelled its planned production of My Name Is Rachel Corrie, a play taken from the diaries of the American activist who was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer while defending the home of a Palestinian pharmacist, for political reasons.  Pinter had always been an anti-censorship activist and added his voice to the chorus decrying this move.

OTL took part in the international viral theatre protest Rachel’s Words, which saw people all around the world reading Rachel’s e-mails from Palestine.  We preceded our reading of the e-mails with a verbatim theatre mini-play The Words About the Words, which dramatized the various voices on both sides of the censorship argument.  Pinter’s quote was an important part of the script.

With all that is going on in the world right now, a voice like Pinter’s is very much needed. While it may be silent, it is one that can and should still be played loud for all to hear.

One Response to “Harold Pinter: a lifetime of art and speaking out”

  1. OTL Blog » Blog Archive » Rachel Corrie's words are still with us Says:

    […] saw this as censorship for political reasons.  From underground artists to Vanessa Redgrave and Harold Pinter, voices rose to oppose Rachel’s voice being silenced once again.  Some of the voices opposed to […]

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