Pinter Leads Protest against War "Madness"Date: 20 September 2001
Harold Pinter (pictured) is among a group of theatre celebrities leading the protest against military action in Afghanistan. Pinter joins Corin Redgrave, Roger Lloyd Pack, Bryony Lavery and others to highlight their concerns in a letter addressed to British newspapers today, 20 September 2001.
The letter opens with a plea on behalf of "all those who were killed in New York and Washington", to stop what the authors refer to as "this madness!" The thrust of the group's argument centres on the possibility of retaliatory strikes by the US coalition creating further victims of conflict, and paving the way for a new wave of terrorist attacks.
The artists claim that "out of the carnage and rubble of a new crusade will come new terrorists, even more desperate and ruthless than before". They also express concern about the Afghan peasant farmers, whom they believe have little knowledge either of American concerns or of the terrorists lurking in their own country. The letter concludes by stating that a "war against international terrorism will be a war of rich against poor, of haves against have-nots", and calls for a war against poverty instead.
Pinter has continued, both on and off-stage, to be a vehement critic of political regimes at home and abroad. He was strongly against NATO's bombing of Serbia, calling it "a bandit action, committed with no serious consideration of the consequences, ill-judged, ill-thought, miscalculated, an act of deplorable machismo". Indeed, many of the playwright's works reflect themes of the individual wrestling against a barbaric state.
One for the Road, which dates back to 1984, is a highly direct work portraying interrogation and verbal torture. Mountain Language, first performed at the National Theatre starring Michael Gambon, has been described as a "short sharp shock, focussing on the brutalities of society". Pinter has been awarded the CBE, European Prize for Literature (Vienna), numerous honorary degrees and the Laurence Olivier Special Award.
Lloyd Pack, familiar to TV viewers for roles in Only Fools and Horses and The Vicar of Dibley, is currently starring in the West End's Art. Redgrave's recent theatre work includes The Cherry Orchard (National Cottesloe), A Song at Twilight and Tennessee Williams' Not About Nightingales. The world premiere of the last was co-produced by Moving Theatre at the National. It went on to Houston and Broadway, earning Redgrave Best Actor nominations from the Olivier, Tony and Drama Desk Awards for his portrayal of a sadistic prison warden.
Prolific playwright and director Bryony Lavery's recent stage work includes Goliath (Bush Theatre, London) and A Wedding Story (Birmingham Rep, Soho Theatre). She has also adapted the Finnish drama, Cherished Disappointments In Love, for Soho Theatre's Autumn 2001 season. Her dramatisation of Angela Carter's The Magic Toyshop is currently on tour.
- by Gareth Thompson