The Birthday Party (play)


The Birthday Party (play)

"The Birthday Party" (1958) is the first full-length play by Harold Pinter and one of Pinter's best-known and most-frequently performed plays. After its hostile London reception almost ended Pinter's playwriting career, it went on to be considered "a classic".Michael Billington, [http://arts.guardian.co.uk/0,,333889917-123425,00.html "Fighting Talk"] , "The Guardian", "guardian.co.uk", 3 May 2008, accessed 10 June 2008: "This month [May] The Birthday Party returns to the same theatre where it opened exactly 50 years ago. Slated by the critics, it nearly ended Harold Pinter's career. So how did it go on to become such a classic, asks Michael Billington."]

Produced by Michael Codron and David Hall, the play had its world première at the Arts Theatre, in Cambridge, England, on 28 April 1958, where the play was "warmly received" on its pre-London tour, in Oxford, England, and Wolverhampton, where it also met with a "positive reception" as "the most enthralling experience the Grand Theatre has given us in many months." [http://www.haroldpinter.org/plays/plays_bdayparty.shtml "The Birthday Party - Premiere"] . Cambridge Arts Theatre, Cambridge, England, 28 Apr. 1958, in "Plays", "HaroldPinter.org", accessed 15 May 2008. (Features texts of selected reviews, including Harold Hobson's "The Screw Turns Again".)See|Harold Pinter#Career] Jamie Andrews, [http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/pinter_archive_blog/2008/05/it-was-fifty-ye.html "It Was Fifty Years Ago Today (Almost)"] , British Library "Harold Pinter Archive Blog" 12 May 2008, citing contemporaneous review from May 1958 and context from a letter by Sean Day-Lewis, former drama critic of the "Express and Star" and the "Birmingham Evening Post", published in May 2008; cf. Sean Day-Lewis, [http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,2279079,00.html "Birthday Party Bafflement"] , "guardian.co.uk" 10 May 2008, Letters, accessed 20 May 2008.]

On 19 May 1958, the production moved to the Lyric Opera House, Hammersmith (now the Lyric Hammersmith), [http://www.lyric.co.uk/p632.html "About the Lyric: History"] , Lyric Hammersmith official website, accessed 9 May 2008.] for its début in London, where it was a commercial and mostly critical failure, instigating "bewildered hysteria" and closing after only eight performances.Matthew Hemley, [http://www.thestage.co.uk/news/newsstory.php/20328/50th-anniversary-staging-of-the-birthday "50th Anniversary Staging of The Birthday Party to Star Hancock"] , "The Stage" 8 Apr. 2008, accessed 9 May 2008.] The weekend after it had already closed, Harold Hobson's belated rave review, "The Screw Turns Again", appeared in "The Sunday Times",Harold Hobson, "The Screw Turns Again", "The Sunday Times" 25 May 1958: 11, rpt. in [http://www.haroldpinter.org/plays/plays_bdayparty.shtml "The Birthday Party - Premiere"] , "haroldpinter.org", accessed 15 May 2008.] rescuing its critical reputation and enabling it to become one of the classics of the modern stage. [http://www.amrep.org/birthday/ "The Birthday Party"] . American Repertory Theatre (ART), Cambridge, Massachusetts, 6-27 March 2004, production website accessed 9 May 2008. (Provides useful resources about the playwright and the play.)] [http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=14793 "The Birthday Party"] , "Socialist Worker" 10 May 2008, accessed 9 May 2008: " ["The Birthday Party"] centres around Stanley Webber, a mysterious man who claims to be a piano player. ... He is visited in the boarding house he now lives in by two sinister characters, Goldberg and McCann, who are looking for a "certain person". ... A birthday party for Stanley turns into a terrible experience. ...The play received poor reviews when it first opened, but today The Birthday Party is rightly recognised as a classic."]

The Lyric celebrates the play's 50th anniversary with a revival, directed by artistic director David Farr, and related events from 8 to 24 May 2008, including a gala performance and reception hosted by Harold Pinter on 19 May 2008, exactly fifty years after its London première." [http://www.lyric.co.uk/pl330.html The Birthday Party] ", Lyric Hammersmith, 8–24 May 2008, production website accessed 9 May 2008.] Theo Bosanquet, [http://www.whatsonstage.com/index.php?pg=207&story=E8821210782782&title=Review+Round-up%3A+Birthday+Cheers+for+Pinter+Party "Review Round-up: Birthday Cheers for Pinter "Party"] , "whatsonstage.com" 14 May 2008, accessed 15 May 2008.]

ummary

"The Birthday Party" is about Stanley Webber, an erstwhile piano player in his 30s, who lives in a rundown boarding house, run by Meg and Petey Boles, in an English seaside town, "probably on the south coast, not too far from London"."Harold Pinter", Faber Critical Guides (London: Faber and Faber, 2000) 57: The setting evokes "Basingstoke and Maidenhead, southern towns ... and ... London — in both Goldberg and Stanley's reminiscences."] [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/listenagain/ram/today5_pinter_20080512.ram Audio interview with Harold Pinter] , conducted by Rebecca Jones, "bbc.co.uk/today" 12 May 2008, accessed 14 May 2008.] Two sinister strangers, Goldberg and McCann, who arrive purportedly on his birthday and who appear to have come looking for him, turn Stanley's apparently-innocuous birthday party organized by Meg into a nightmare." [http://www.samuelfrench.com/store/product_info.php/products_id/981 The Birthday Party] " synopsis, in "Samuel French Basic Catalog", rpt. in "samuelfrench.com" ("Little Theatre"), accessed 10 May 2008.]

Plot synopsis

Act 1

Morning.While Meg prepares to serve her husband Petey breakfast, they engage in some mundane and comic banter, exchanging questions with obvious answers such as "Petey, is that you," "Yes, it's me" (19). Petey, a deck-chair attendant, tells Meg that two men who came up to him the previous day are "looking for someone. A certain person" and need a place to stay for one or two nights (22). After Meg asks Petey if someone is "up" yet and when he will be "down" (24), speaking of this person as if he were a little boy, she goes to the kitchen door to call upstairs to him, disappears upstairs, from which offstage laughter ensues, and Stanley, described as a man "in his late thirties" (23), who is disheveled and unshaven, enters from upstairs, and Petey welcomes him with "Morning, Stanley" (24). Given the way they have been referring to him prior to his entrance, audience members unfamiliar with the play might assume Stanley to be their son; as Meg tells her husband when he relates the newspaper report of about "Some girl" —"Lady Mary Splatt" — having a baby, "I'd much rather have a little boy" (21). But, the dialogue eventually reveals that Stanley is their boarder, who has lived in their house for about a year (as Meg tells Goldberg later [43] ). Alternatingly maternal and flirtatious toward Stanley, Meg serves him tea and breakfast, but he disagreeably complains about the quality of the food and teases her by applying the word "succulent" sarcastically both to her dried-out "fried bread" and to Meg herself, leading her to object naively to his using such a word to "a married woman" (28), while bringing it up again "shyly": "Am I really succulent" (30). Though Stanley resents her blithlely-romantic allusions to previous "lovely times" that they have "had" in his "room" (30) and reacts with hostility, "pushing her" away from him, Meg insists that he would be "lonely, all by yourself [...] Without your old Meg," while she would be away shopping, and takes the upper hand by telling him Petey's news that she does not yet know: that "two gentlemen", two new "visitors", will be arriving (30–31). At this information, Stanley appears concerned, suspicious, and disbelieving, asking her details and accusing her of "saying it on purpose" to get back at him (30–31). He says he may be leaving for a new job in Berlin, but the discrepancies in his stories about his piano playing on the "pier" and his having "once" given a "concert" make the offer of any such job and his having a "career" as a "pianist" suspect (32–34). In the midst of their argument, just after Stanley threatens Meg ("advancing upon her") with "a wheelbarrow" in the "van" that Meg claims the two men are arriving in, there is "A sudden knock on the front door" and Meg goes offstage, while Stanley "listens" at a voice coming "through the letter box"," and Meg carries on a conversation with the still-disembodied voice about some mysterious "it" that has "just come" (36). Lulu enters, carrying in a package delivered for Meg, who sets it aside before going out to shop. While Meg is away, Stanley makes an oblique offer asking Lulu to "go away with me"; but when Lulu pins him down, asking, "But where could we go," she learns that Stanley actually has "nowhere" in mind (37). Right after Lulu exits, Goldberg and McCann arrive, but Stanley immediately "sidles through the kitchen door and out of the back door" before they can see him (38), and they engage in some conversation about how Goldberg knows that they have found "the right place" (38–39). McCann seems "nervous" and Goldberg confident about "doing the job" (40), and, fulfilling McCann's request, Goldberg reassures him but speaks only vaguely about "this job" they have to do with bureaucratic clichés (41), nevertheless rendering McCann "satisfied" (41). After Meg returns from shopping and meets the men (41–42), Goldberg wins her over with exaggerated politeness — "How often do you meet someone it's a pleasure to meet?" and she reveals Stanley's name and a garbled version of Stanley's earlier account of his "concert" (43), revealing that this day is Stanley's birthday and that she plans a party for which she will "put on" her "party dress," eliciting Goldberg's enthusiastic offer to buy the "bottles" for their drinks and the compliment, "Madam, you'll look like a tulip" (45). After Meg's new "guests" go up to their room, Stanley enters, and Meg gives him the package brought by Lulu containing his birthday present, which he opens, revealing, inappropriately for a man his age, a toy drum. Stanley begins to beat it, marching around the room as if he were a young boy and becoming increasingly "savage and possessed", beating the drum more and more frenetically, as the curtain ends the first act (45–48).

Act 2

Evening.McCann is seated at the table tearing a newspaper into strips, an act he repeats in Act 3. Stanley enters and they bicker, with Stanley acting erratically and denying that it is his birthday and that Meg is "Round the bend." Stanley appears to be increasingly worried, but McCann and Goldberg are nonplussed (they maintain an icy control over Stanley throughout the play) and prepare for the party by buying alcohol. Stanley, Goldberg and McCann conflict, with Goldberg eventually confronting Stanley by asking "Why did you leave the organization?" and "Why did you betray us?" At one point they snatch off Stanley's glasses, weakening him, which they will do again in the party. Goldberg and McCann go on interrogating Stanley fiercely, with them aggressively telling him "You betrayed our land...you betray our breed...you're dead." Meg comes down in her dress, and they begin the party, with all drinking and becoming drunk. Goldberg makes a toast, which Lulu compliments, and she sits on his lap, and he begins to fondle her. "You're the dead image of the first man I ever loved," she tells him. They decide to play a children's game, Blind Man's Bluff. During the play, Stanley's glasses are removed, and McCann breaks them. Stanley is blindfolded, and the lights go out. Stanley seems to exert more power for a time, and also seizes Meg's throat--threatening the mother figure (or co-conspirator). McCann and Goldberg rush to help her and throw him off. In the dark, Stanley grasps Lulu, and she faints. He picks her up and puts her on the table. With a flashlight, Goldberg and McCann locate Stanley, and approach him. He backs to a wall, giggling wildly. They converge on him at curtain.

Act 3

Morning.Paralleling the first scene of the play, Petey is having breakfast, and Meg asks him innocuous questions, with important differences revealing the aftermath of the party. Meg has a headache, after her drunken revelry the night before. Suspiciously, Goldberg and McCann are in Stanley's room, and he seems to be wholly passive now. Meg waits for him to come to breakfast. Ever polite, Goldberg comes down for tea. He comments on Stanley's psychological instability, and it comes out that they will take Stanley away, which worries Petey. He offers to get a doctor, but Goldberg says "It's all taken care of, Mr. Boles. Don't worry yourself." McCann comes down with the suitcases, and Petey implies that he won't go to work, which upsets Goldberg. He then exits, passively. McCann and Goldberg discuss what to do, and that they will "get the thing done and go." McCann begins to strip the newspaper, which angers Goldberg. Goldberg reflects on his father and a better past, which he has done elsewhere in the play, energetically advocating traditional family moral values, but, when he tries to state what "I believe", he appears to run out of energy and asks McCann to "give me a blow" — that is, to blow air into his mouth. McCann blows into Goldberg's mouth twice, which rejuvenates Goldberg. After that, Lulu enters, bitter about having been seduced by Goldberg the night before. McCann and Goldberg confront her, ultimately telling her to "confess" for her sexual licentiousness. Goldberg says that McCann had been "defrocked" six months before. Lulu exits, and McCann brings in Stanley, with his broken glasses. "How are you Stan?" asks Goldberg, and then they begin to "woo" Stanley, promising to take care of him through a series of clichés and ultimately to make him "a new man" (95–99):

GOLDBERG. We'll watch over you.
MCCANN. Advise you.
GOLDBERG. Give you proper care and treatment.
MCCANN. Let you use the club bar.
GOLDBERG. Keep a table reserved.
MCCANN. Help you acknowledge the fast days.
GOLDBERG. Bake you cakes.
MCCANN. Help you kneel on kneeling days.
GOLDBERG. Give you a free pass.
MCCANN. Take you for constitutionals.
GOLDBERG. Give you hot tips.
MCCANN. We'll provide the skipping rope.
GOLDBERG. The vest and pants.
MCCANN. The ointment.
GOLDBERG. The hot poultice.
MCCANN. The fingerstall.
GOLDBERG. The abdomen belt.
MCCANN. The ear plugs.
GOLDBERG. The baby powder.
MCCANN. The back scratcher.
GOLDBERG. The spare tyre.
MCCANN. The stomach pump.
GOLDBERG. The oxygen tent. (97–99)

Overpowered by their rhetorical prowess, Stanley appears catatonic and does not respond.

"Still the same old Stan. Come with us. Come on, boy," says Goldberg (100).

They begin to lead him out of the house toward the car waiting to take him to "Monty". Petey confronts them one last time but passively backs down as they take Stanley away, "broken", calling out a line that Pinter later has claimed to be "the most important" that he has ever written: "Stan, don't let them tell you what to do!" (101). See|Harold Pinter#Pinter and academia

After Meg returns from shopping, she notices that "The car's gone" and, referring to Goldberg and McCann, asks Petey, "Have they gone?" Even though Petey confirms their departure ("Yes."), she still wonders, "Won't they be in for lunch?" (101). Though Petey tells her, "No." and she responds, "Oh, what a shame," as in Act One, she sees Petey reading the newspaper, and, though that is obvious, she still asks him what he's "doing" and, when he says, "Reading," as in Act One, she asks if it is "good" (101). Also, as in Act One, she wonders "Where's Stan?" and whether he's "down yet," Petey almost tells her ("No . . . he's"), but after she interrupts him to show that she thinks, as in Act One, that Stanley must be "still in bed," poignantly attempting to keep the truth from her, Petey "Yes, he's . . . still asleep. [...] Let him . . . sleep" (102). Clearly oblivious to what happened to Stanley during and after the party the night before, Meg describes it as a "lovely party" and herself as "the belle of the ball". As Petey remains silent, he continues to withhold his knowledge of Stanley's departure, in effect allowing her to end the play on that ironically-romantic note.

Genre

"The Birthday Party" has been described (some say "pigeonholed") by Irving Wardle and later critics as a "Comedy of menace"As cited by Susan Hollis Merritt, "Pinter in Play: Critical Strategies and the Plays of Harold Pinter" (1990; Durham and London: Duke UP, 1995) 5, 9, 225–28, 326.] and by Martin Esslin as an example of the Theatre of the Absurd.Martin Esslin, "The Theatre of the Absurd", 3rd ed., with a new foreword by the author (1961; New York: Vintage [Knopf] , 2004). ISBN 9781400075232 (13).] It includes such features as the fluidity and ambiguity of time, place, and identity and the disintegration of language.For a discussion of "Pinter's 'ambiguity' ", see "Pinter's 'Semantic Uncertainty' and Critically 'Inescapable' Certainties," chapter 4 of Merritt, "Pinter in Play" 66-86.]

Interpretation

Like many of Pinter's other plays, very little of the expository information in "The Birthday Party" is verifiable; it is often contradicted by the characters and otherwise ambiguous, and, therefore, one cannot take what they say at face value. For example, in Act One, Stanley describes his career, saying "I've played the piano all over the world," reduces that immediately to "All over the country," and then, after a "pause", undercuts both hyperbolic self-representations in stating "I once gave a concert."Harold Pinter, "The Birthday Party", in "The Essential Pinter" (New York: Grove P, 2006) 14. (Subsequent parenthetical page references to this edition appear in the text.) ]

While the title and the dialogue refer to Meg's planning a party to celebrate Stanley's birthday: "It's your birthday, Stan. I was going to keep it a secret until tonight," even that "fact" is dubious, as Stanley denies that it is his birthday: "This isn't my birthday, Meg" (48), telling Goldberg and McCann: "Anyway, this isn't my birthday. [...] No, it's not until next month," adding, in response to McCann's saying "Not according to the lady [Meg] ," "Her? She's crazy. Round the bend" (53).

Although Meg claims that her house is a "boarding house," her husband, Petey, who was confronted by "two men" who "wanted to know if we could put them up for a couple of nights" is surprised that Meg already has "got a room ready" (23), and, Stanley (being the only supposed boarder), also responds to what appears to him to be the sudden appearance of Goldberg and McCann as prospective guests on a supposed "short holiday," flat out denies that it is a boarding house: "This is a ridiculous house to pick on. [...] Because it's not a boarding house. It never was" (53).

McCann claims to have no knowledge of Stanley or Maidenhead when Stanley asks him "Ever been anywhere near Maidenhead? [...] There's a Fuller's teashop. I used to have my tea there. [...] and a Boots Library. I seem to connect you with the High Street. [...] A charming town, don't you think? [...] A quiet, thriving community. I was born and brought up there. I lived well away from the main road" (51); yet Goldberg later names both businesses that Stanley used to frequent connecting Goldberg and possibly also McCann to Maidenhead: "A little Austin, tea in Fuller's a library book from Boots, and I'm satisfied" (70). Of course, both Stanley and Goldberg could just be inventing these apparent "reminiscences" as they both appear to have invented other details about their lives earlier, and here Goldberg could conveniently be lifting details from Stanley's earlier own mention of them, which he has heard; as Merritt observes, the factual basis for such apparent correspondences in the dialogue uttered by Pinter's characters remains ambiguous and subject to multiple interpretations.John Russell Brown, "Words and Silence" (1972), rpt. in 87-99 of "Casebook", ed. Scott. (Subsequent parenthetical page references to Brown appear in the text.)]

Shifting identities (cf. "the theme of identity") makes the past ambiguous: Goldberg is called "Nat," but in his stories of the past he says that he was called "Simey" (73) and also "Benny" (92), and he refers to McCann as both "Dermot" (in talking to Petey [87] ) and "Seamus" (in talking to McCann [93] ). Given such contradictions, these characters' actual names and thus identities remain unclear. According to John Russell Brown (94), "Falsehoods are important for Pinter's dialogue, not least when they can be detected only by careful reference from one scene to another.... Some of the more blatant lies are so casually delivered that the audience is encouraged to look for more than is going to be disclosed. This is a part of Pinter's two-pronged tactic of awakening the audience's desire for verification and repeatedly disappointing this desire" (Brown 94).

Although Stanley, just before the lights go out during the birthday party, "begins to strangle Meg" (78), she has no memory of that the next morning, quite possibly because she had drunk too much and gotten tipsy (71-74); oblivious that Goldberg and McCann have removed Stanley from the house — Petey keeps that information from her when she inquires, "Is he still in bed?" by answering "Yes, he's ... still asleep"––she ends the play focusing on herself and romanticizing her role in the party, "I was the belle of the ball. [...] I know I was" (102).

Characters

Meg and Petey

While on tour with L. du Garde's "A Horse! A Horse!", Pinter found himself in Eastbourne without a place to stay. He met a stranger in a pub who said "I can take you to some digs but I wouldn't recommend them exactly," and then led Pinter to the house where he stayed. Pinter told his official biographer, Michael Billington, cquote|

'I went to these digs and found, in short, a very big woman who was the landlady and a little man, the landlord. There was no one else there, apart from a solitary lodger, and the digs were really quite filthy ... I slept in the attic with this man I'd met in the pub ... we shared the attic and there was a sofa over my bed ... propped up so I was looking at this sofa from which hairs and dust fell continuously. And I said to the man, "What are you doing here?" And he said, "Oh well I used to be...I'm a pianist. I used to play in the concert-party here and I gave that up." ... The woman was really quite a voracious character, always tousled his head and tickled him and goosed him and wouldn't leave him alone at all. And when I asked him why he stayed, he said, "There's nowhere else to go.'Michael Billington, "Harold Pinter", rev. and expanded ed. of "The Life and Work of Harold Pinter" (1996; London: Faber and Faber, 2007) 76. (Subsequent parenthetical references to this edition appear in the text.)]

According to Billington, "The lonely lodger, the ravenous landlady, the quiescent husband: these figures, eventually to become Stanley, Meg, and Petey, sound like figures in a Donald McGill seaside postcard" ("Harold Pinter" 76).

Goldberg and McCann

Goldberg and McCann "represent not only the West's most autocratic religions, but its two most persecuted races" (Billington, "Harold Pinter" 80).

tanley

Stanley Webber - "a palpably Jewish name, incidentally - is a man who shores up his precarious sense of self through fantasy, bluff, violence and his own manipulative form of power-play. His treatment of Meg initially is rough, playful, teasing, ... but once she makes the fateful, mood-changing revelation - 'I've got to get things ready for the two gentlemen' - he's as dangerous as a cornered animal" (Billington, "Harold Pinter" 78).

Lulu

Lulu is a woman in her twenties "whom Stanley tries vainly to rape" (Billington, "Harold Pinter" 112).

Themes

According to Pinter's official biographer, Michael Billington, in "Harold Pinter", echoing Pinter's own retrospective view of it, "The Birthday Party" is "a deeply political play about the individual's imperative need for resistance," yet, according to Billington, though he "doubts whether this was conscious on Pinter's part," it is also "a private, obsessive work about time past; about some vanished world, either real or idealised, into which all but one of the characters readily escapes. ... From the very outset, the defining quality of a Pinter play is not so much fear and menace –– though they are undoubtedly present –– as a yearning for some lost Eden as a refuge from the uncertain, miasmic present" (82).

As quoted by Arnold P. Hinchliffe, Polish critic Gregorz Sinko points out that in "The Birthday Party" "we see the destruction of the victim from the victim's own point of view:

In an interview with Mel Gussow, which is about the 1988 Classic Stage Company production of "The Birthday Party", later paired with "Mountain Language" in a 1989 CSC production, in both of which David Strathairn played Stanley, Gussow asked Pinter: "The Birthday Party" has the same story as "One for the Road"?"

In responding to Gussow's question, Pinter refers to all three plays when he replies:

As Bob Bows observes in his review of the 2008 Germinal Stage Denver production, whereas at first " 'The Birthday Party' appears to be a straightforward story of a former working pianist now holed up in a decrepit boarding house," in this play as in his other plays, "behind the surface symbolism ... in the silence between the characters and their words, Pinter opens the door to another world, cogent and familiar: the part we hide from ourselves"; ultimately, "Whether we take Goldberg and McCann to be the devil and his agent or simply their earthly emissaries, the puppeteers of the church-state apparatus, or some variation thereof, Pinter's metaphor of a bizarre party bookended by birth and death is a compelling take on this blink-of-an-eye we call life."Bob Bows, [http://www.denverpost.com/theater/ci_8964419 'The Birthday Party' : *** (out of four stars)"] , "The Denver Post", "denverpost.com", 11 Apr. 2008, accessed 10 May 2008.]

elected production history

London and New York premieres

*Lyric Hammersmith, London, UK, directed by Peter Wood, May 1958.
*Booth Theatre, New York, U.S., directed by Alan Schneider, October 1967.

50th anniversary revival and related celebratory events

*Lyric Hammersmith, London, UK, directed by David Farr, from 8 May to 24 May 2008.

elected U.S. regional and off-Broadway New York productions

1988–1989 and 1989–1990 seasons

*Classic Stage Company (CSC Repertory Theatre), New York City, directed by Carey Perloff; first production from 12 April to 22 May 1988; second production in a double bill with the American première of "Mountain Language", from 31 October to 23 December 1989).Susan Hollis Merritt, "The Birthday Party: CSC Repertory Theatre, New York, 17 April 1988, 12 Apr. 1988—22 May 1988", "Pinter Rev." 2 (1988): 66–70 and "A Conversation with Carey Perloff, Bill Moor, Peter Riegert, Jean Stapleton, and David Strathairn: After matinee of "Mountain Language" and "The Birthday Party" [,] By CSC Repertory Ltd. [,] Bruno's, New York, 12 Nov. 1989", "The Pinter Review: Annual Essays 1989", ed. Francis Gillen and Steven H. Gale (Tampa: U of Tampa P, 1989) 59–84. Both productions starred David Strathairn as Stanley. The 1989 CSC production substituted Jean Stapleton for Georgine Hall as Meg and Bill Moor for Robert Gerringer as Petey; in both productions Peter Riegert played Goldberg, Richard Riehle played McCann, and Wendy Makkena played Lulu. According to Merritt's recorded and transcribed "conversation" with the director and cast members, when Pinter attended rehearsals of the second production, he added Goldberg's line "What a lovely flight of stairs" (61–62). In his May 2008 BBC Radio 4 extended interview with Rebecca Jones, excerpted on "Today" on 12 May 2008, Pinter remembers having done so for a production in "1999", but, according to Perloff in the November 1989 interview with Merritt, he originated the line for her production, which featured a functional staircase prominently in its set and action; Perloff observes: "in every Pinter play, upstairs is threatening ..." (63).See|#External links] [http://www.haroldpinter.org/plays/frn_bdayparty_us89.shtml The Birthday Party (CSC)] , in "Plays", at "haroldpinter.org", accessed 18 May 2008.]

2003-2004 season

*American Repertory Theatre (ART), Loeb Drama Center, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, directed by Joanne Akalaitis, from 6 to 27 March 2004.

2006–2007 season

*McCarter Theater, at Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, directed by Emily Mann, in September 2006.
*Ethel M. Barber Theater, of the Theater & Interpretation Center, School of Communication, at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, directed by Jason Tyne, in November 2006.
*Irish Classical Theatre Company at the Andrews Theatre, Buffalo, New York, directed by Greg Natale, from January to February 2007.
* Bruka Theatre, 99 North Virginia Street, Reno, Nevada, directed by Tom Plunkett, in July 2007.Jessica Santina, [http://www.newsreview.com/reno/Content?oid=356469 Party Crashers: The Birthday Party"] , "newsreview.com" (Reno, Nevada), 26 July 2007, Arts & Culture: Theater, accessed 9 May 2008.]
*Stage Center Theatre, at Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois, directed by Dan Wirth, from November to December 2006." [http://www.neiu.edu/~stagectr/Birthday/Birthday.html The Birthday Party] ", Stage Center Theatre, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois, during Fall 2006. Accessed 9 May 2008. (Includes the Samuel French catalog's and the director's synopses of the play, production still photographs, and related information.)]

2007-2008 season

*Germinal Stage Denver, Denver, Colorado, directed by Ed Baierlein, from 4 April to 4 May 2008. [http://calendar.denverpost.com/denver-co/events/show/81816814-the-birthday-party "The Birthday Party"] at Germinal Stage Denver, "The Denver Post", "denverpost.com" 10 May 2008, "Calendar", accessed 10 May 2008.]

ee also

*Comedy of menace
*Theatre of the Absurd

Notes

elected bibliography

;Books cited
*Billington, Michael. "Harold Pinter". Rev. and exp. ed. of "The Life and Work of Harold Pinter". 1996; London: Faber and Faber, 2007. ISBN 0-571-19065-0 (1996 ed.). ISBN 978-0-571-23476-9 (13) (2007 paperback ed.).
*Gussow, Mel. "Conversations with Harold Pinter". London: Nick Hern Books, 1994. ISBN 1-85459-201-7. New York: Limelight, 1994. ISBN 0-8791-0179-2 (10). ISBN 978-0-8791-0179-4 (13). New York: Grove P, 1996. ISBN ISBN 0-8021-3467-X (10). ISBN 978-0-8021-3467-7 (13).
*"Harold Pinter": The Birthday Party, The Caretaker, The Homecoming: "A Casebook". Ed. Michael Scott. Casebook Ser. General Ed. A. E. Dyson. New York: Macmillan, 1986. ISBN 0-333-35269-6 (10).
*Hinchliffe, Arnold P. "Harold Pinter". The Griffin Authors Ser. New York: St. Martin's P, 1967. LCCCN 74-80242. Twayne's English Authors Ser. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1967. LCCCN 67-12264. Rev. ed. 1967; New York: Twayne Publishers, 1981. ISBN 0-8057-6784-3 (10). ISBN 978-0-8057-6784-1 (13).
*Lee, Veronica. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2008/05/07/btsheila107.xml "Sheila Hancock: Harold Pinter Wasn't Like Us – He Never Went to the Pub"] . "The Telegraph", "telegraph.com", 5 May 2005, accessed 7 May 2008. (Leader: "As she prepares to star in the 50th anniversary production of 'The Birthday Party', Sheila Hancock recalls the shock of seeing it for the first time and what its author was like as a young actor called Dave [David Baron] ....")
*Merritt, Susan Hollis. "Pinter in Play: Critical Strategies and the Plays of Harold Pinter". 1990; Durham and London: Duke UP, 1995. ISBN 0-8223-1674-9 (10). ISBN 978-0-8223-1674-9 (13).
*Naismith, Bill. "Harold Pinter". Faber Critical Guides. London: Faber and Faber, 2000. ISBN 0-571-19781-7 (10). ISBN 978-0-5711-9781-1 (13).
*Pinter, Harold. "The Birthday Party". 15-102 in "The Essential Pinter". New York: Grove P, 2006. ISBN 0-8021-4269-9 (10). ISBN 978-0-8021-4269-6 (13).
*–––. "Various Voices: Prose, Poetry, Politics 1948-2005". Rev. ed. 1998; London: Faber and Faber, 2005. ISBN 0-5712-3009-1 (10). ISBN 978-0-5712-3009-9 (13). (Includes "Letter to Peter Wood ... (1958)" in "On "The Birthday Party " I" 11–15; "Letter to the Editor of "The Play's the Thing", October 1958" in "On "The Birthday Party" II" 16–19 and "A View of the Party" (1958) 149–50.)

External links

* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/listenagain/ram/today5_pinter_20080512.ram Audio interview with Harold Pinter] , conducted by Rebecca Jones, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary revival at the Lyric Hammersmith, London. "Today", "BBC Radio 4", "bbc.co.uk/today", 12 May 2008. (Streaming audio [excerpts] , BBC Radio Player; "extended interview" audio RealAudio Media [.ram] clip ["PINTER20080513"] posted at " [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/ Today] ", "bbc.co.uk/radio4/today", accessed 14 May and 18 May 2008. Duration of shorter, broadcast version: 3 mins., 56 secs.; duration of the extended interview: 10 mins., 19 secs. [This interview is accessible for a week after first broadcast in "Listen again" on the "Today" website.] )
*" [http://www.haroldpinter.org/plays/title_bdayparty.shtml The Birthday Party] " at "haroldpinter.org". (Selected UK and foreign productions of the play with excerpts from selected performance reviews posted in the section on "Plays" in Pinter's official website.)
*" [http://www.lyric.co.uk/pl330.html The Birthday Party] ". 50th anniversary revival at the Lyric Hammersmith, London, 8–24 May 2008. (Menu linking to related events.)
* [http://www.peopleplayuk.org.uk/guided_tours/drama_tour/post_1945/explosion.php "The Explosion of New Writing" (Drama Guided Tour)] . "PeoplePlayUK: Theatre History Online", formerly the Theatre Museum, National Theatre of the Performing Arts, London (until 1 Jan. 2007); updated and hosted by " [http://www.vam.ac.uk/tco/ Theatre Collections Online] ". (Features introductory consideration of Pinter, production photographs of "The Birthday Party", and links to more information.)


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