Influential Playwright Pinter Dies at 78

BY Arts Desk  December 25, 2008 at 1:11 PM EST

Harold Pinter, the Nobel Prize-winning playwright who has been lauded as the most influential dramatist of his generation, died Wednesday at age 78 after a long battle with cancer.
Harold Pinter; AP file photo
“There’s always a sense of struggle for power within Pinter,” said Ben Brantley, chief theater critic for the New York Times, on the NewsHour in 2005. “It’s given voice not only in the repetition of simple words, which acquire different weights as the plays go on, but also in the silences in Pinter’s trademark pauses.”

Those pauses and the way they highlight the tensions, lurking dangers and uncertainties of daily life earned the playwright his own adjective: “Pinteresque.”

In addition to writing plays, Pinter was an actor, screenwriter, poet and director. He penned more than 30 plays, most notably “The Birthday Party,” “The Homecoming” and “Betrayal.”

He also was very outspoken about his politics and used his speech upon receiving the Nobel to criticize President George W. Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Iraq war. His later plays, like “One for the Road,” became more openly political.

Pinter was born Oct. 10, 1930 in London. His father was a tailor and his mother a homemaker.

An encore presentation of Jeffrey Brown’s conversation with Brantley about Pinter and his work: