Interview with playwright Harold Pinter


This video is called Anti [Iraq] War March – London, Feb 2003.

From an interview in the New York Times with British playwright Harold Pinter:

If the personal and the political sometimes merge for Mr. Pinter, the events of the last few years — his illness, his Nobel Prize, the celebrations of his prodigious body of work — have tended to happen in a blur, too. Leaving Dublin two years ago after a retrospective marking his 75th birthday, Mr. Pinter slipped on the pavement at the airport and gashed his head. The next day he learned he had won the Nobel. And then, at home writing his Nobel lecture, he got a call from his doctor. The news was bad; Mr. Pinter needed to go to the hospital immediately.

The ambulance was already on its way, but Mr. Pinter managed to finish writing the lecture. He was briefly released from the hospital to deliver it, which he did from a wheelchair on a bare stage at a London television studio, obviously ill, a blanket across his lap, his voice hoarse but steady. The lecture was a blistering indictment of American foreign policy, and it gave Mr. Pinter a world stage for his political views, which over the years have included protests against the NATO bombing of Serbia, censorship, the gulf war and the war in Iraq.

Mr. Pinter reserves much of his great outrage for the United States. In his Nobel address, he said it was guilty of “systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless” crimes. “You have to hand it to America,” he said. “It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good.”

Mr. Pinter, who last visited the United States in 2001, for a festival of his work in New York, refuses to go back. But he has prodigious charm to go along his irascibility, and he related an anecdote that hints at somewhat more complicated feelings, or at least proves he can laugh at himself.

About 20 years ago he traveled to Nicaragua as a guest of the Sandinista government and had to change planes in Miami on his way back. “So I joined the line to Immigration, and there’s a very big woman on my line, and I knew she was going to ask me, ‘What were you doing in Nicaragua?’ and I was going to say, ‘Mind your own damn business.’

“So I got up there, and she opened my passport, and she said, ‘Are you the Harold Pinter?’ And I said yes, and she said, ‘Welcome to the United States!’

“So I thought, there are very many sides to America.”

Angels in America by Tony Kushner returns to New York: here.

4 thoughts on “Interview with playwright Harold Pinter

  1. Wednesday December 12, 12:30 AM
    Playwright Kushner in PBS spotlight
    LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – It’s time to wrestle again with playwright Tony Kushner in this latest installment of PBS’ documentary series “P.O.V.”

    “Wrestling With Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner” (which closes the series’ 2007 season) takes a good look at the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and social critic, most notably responsible for the witty and biting two-part epic “Angels in America.”

    “Wrestling” is a spellbinding look at Kushner as it catches him at work, with his family and out at the podium speaking about political problems he sees in this country.

    Kushner’s politics blend easily with his work and with the way he conducts his life. This makes his plays all the more passionate. Filmmaker Freida Lee Mock catches Kushner in all his passions. Her camera never lets up closing in on a man who makes a great subject for a documentary because he’s so animated and energized. As a gay Jewish man raised in the south, Kushner might be America himself — a blend of wit, compassion and concern. His voice is not lost on Mock.

    Kushner is open about all aspects of his life, from the warmth of his childhood growing up in Lake Charles, La., and his artistic parents who encouraged Kushner’s interests, to his early years in college coming to terms with his homosexuality, to his burgeoning and now splendid career as a playwright.

    “Angels in America” is given time in this documentary, as are Kushner’s other works, especially “Homebody/Kabul,” Kushner’s play about America’s involvement with Afghanistan. “Homebody,” as Kushner notes in depth, is especially compelling because the play was about to open when September 11 occurred and gave the playwright plenty of thought about what he had just produced.

    Mock divides her documentary into sections delineating Kushner’s life and passions. We get “As a Citizen of the World,” “Mama, I’m a Homosexual, Mama,” “Collective Action to Overcome Injustice” and an epilogue, “Action Can Change the Course of Things.” We hear from Emma Thompson, Meryl Streep, Mike Nichols and others.

    What this filmmaker does best is to understand and to present Kushner as a compassionate and committed artist who views his life and his work at one with his strong social conscience. This documentary is smart in that it understands the artist no less than the political soul in Kushner.

    Director-writer-producer: Freida Lee Mock; Executive producer: Terry Sanders; Cinematographers: Eddie Marritz, Don Lenzer, Bestor Cram, Terry Sanders; Editor: Anne Stein; Music: Jeanine Tesori.

    Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

    Like

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