A silence beyond echo : Harold Pinter's political theatre / by Charles Vincent Grimes.
The career of Harold Pinter has been marked by a transition to an openly political stance. Pinter is unique among British political dramatists in asserting the demise of progressive agendas and in depicting the paralysis, dramatized as silence, in which cultural dissidence and sociopolitical opposition end. Pinter's political theatre challenges viewers to see through the familiarity of oppression. Pinter's negative politics contrast with the positive socialism driving the radical playwrights of his generation, as Pinter's political dramaturgy selectively borrows from and modifies twentieth-century models of political theatre dating to Bernard Shaw. Models of the double, compartmentalized self offered by critical theory and sociology guide Pinter's characterizations and underline the perceived failure of political theatre in postmodernity. While a social consciousness is traced in Pinter from his earliest, absurdist-influenced plays, The Birthday Party, The Dumb Waiter, and The Hothouse form a triptych in which politics are approached with increasing directness. In Pinter's explicitly political plays, since 1983, reality is revealed as malleable for political rather than philosophical or aesthetic reasons, comedy and depth of character are consciously rejected, and Pinteresque menace is stripped of psychological particularity and becomes a social generality. His directing career is largely a conduit for his denunciation of Western power and his espousal of pacifism. Pinter's screenplay adaptations of the last two decades analyze the personality type attracted to fascism, the foundations of the Holocaust, and gender conflict. Pinter's latest play, Ashes to Ashes (1996), represents the Holocaust following Theodor Adorno's criticism of Holocaust literature. This play summarizes Pinter's career as it echoes his previous plays and themes, and as it merges realism with absurdism, the historical with the contemporary, and the domestic with the international.
Record last modified: 2018-05-22 11:47:00
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