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Theatre Program presents works by Harold Pinter

April 23, 2018
two actors on stage, one sitting on a couch and the other holding a cat

Joel Omino ’21, left, and Meredith Watson ’18 star in The Collection by Harold Pinter, one of two plays presented in the International Theatre Program’s production of “The Pinter Plays.” (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

The International Theatre Program will close its season with “The Pinter Plays”—works by Nobel Prize-winning British playwright Harold Pinter—opening on Thursday, April 26.

“The key thing about Pinter is that he revolutionized modern drama,” says Nigel Maister, the Russell and Ruth Peck Artistic Director of the theater program and the production’s director. Considered one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century, Pinter was a “master of the minimal and the malevolent,” says Maister.

A double bill at Todd Theater, the production includes The Collection and The Lover, considered two of Pinter’s most shocking one-act plays. Originally written for television, they were later transformed into stage plays. The Collection tells the story of infidelity and jealousy in two households: one same-sex couple and a heterosexual married couple. The Lover is about a couple who grapple with fantasy role-playing games.

“It’s amazing acting material for the students,” says Maister. “The characters are fascinating. Each line is packed with action.”

Pinter’s work and many elements of his writing style are so distinctive that the word “Pinteresque” has entered the theater lexicon. He is also known for the “Pinter Pause,” a break in the dialogue when action takes place, though nothing is being said. “It’s filled with meaning, and that drives the narrative forward,” says Maister.

“There is a sense in Pinter’s work that the world outside of us is kind of out to get us, or is slightly malevolent or unknown,” Maister says. “In his plays, there is usually a domestic situation in which the world intrudes and while it’s seldom violent, physically, there’s an enormous amount of violence being done under the surface.”

This is the first time the International Theatre Program has produced a Pinter play. The production crew includes Amy Rubin as set designer; Lux Haac as costume designer; Seth Reiser on lighting design; Obadiah Eaves as sound designer and composer; J. David Brimmer as fight director; and Alexa Scott-Flaherty as acting and voice coach.

Meredith Watson ’18, who plays the character Stella in The Collection, thinks Pinter’s work is something everyone should see. “It’s very thought provoking in a way you don’t expect. It’s jarring and unsettling to watch,” she says. Watson will graduate in May with a double major in brain and cognitive sciences and in linguistics. “It’s a really brilliant piece.”

“It’s part of cultural literacy. It’s like seeing Shakespeare, or Arthur Miller, or a Tennessee Williams play,” says Maister. “You need to have that experience”

The Pinter Plays

The production runs Thursday through Saturday (April 26–28) and Wednesday through Saturday (May 2–5) starting at 7 p.m. There are also 2 p.m. matinee performances on Saturday, April 29. All performances take place in Todd Theater on the University of Rochester’s River Campus. Tickets are $8 for University of Rochester students, $12 for alumni, faculty, staff, and for seniors (65+), and $15 for the general public. Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.rochester.edu/theater or by calling the box office at (585) 275-4088. Tickets may also be purchased up to an hour before each performance at the box office.

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Category: The Arts