Staging Pinter: Networks, Collaborators, Legacies
The inaugural conference of Harold Pinter: Histories and Legacies
A two-day international conference at the University of Birmingham
George Cadbury Hall | 998 Bristol Rd, B29 6LG
April 6-7 2018

GUS What town are we in? I’ve forgotten.
BEN I’ve told you. Birmingham.
GUS Go on!
He looks with interest about the room.
That’s in the Midlands. The second biggest city in Great Britain. I’d never have guessed.

Harold Pinter, The Dumb Waiter (1957)


Welcome to the official conference page for ‘Staging Pinter: Networks, Collaborators, Legacies’

Registration is now OPEN! To register, please click here
Please note that all registration rates (single day or full attendance, salaried or students/unwaged) are inclusive of refreshments, lunches and a wine reception on Saturday 7th April.

As the conference approaches, the organising committee will keep this page up to date with announcements concerning Keynote speakers and invited guests, information regarding the schedule and social events, and practical information on the venue, accommodation options, and travel to and from Birmingham. 

Travel and Accommodation Guidelines

While you’re here, please feel free to browse other pages connected to the project and its team of researchers, as well as our expanding collection of blog posts for exciting insights into ongoing primary research, reflections on Pinter’s life, work and some of his closest collaborators, and useful guides to DVD collections, publications, and more.

You can also keep up to date with announcements via Twitter @pinterlegacies or on Facebook 

We look forward to welcoming you to Birmingham in April 2018!

For guidance on travel to and from the venue and local accommodation options, please click here or on the image above.

Schedule and Programme of Speakers 

Day One
Situating Pinter: Global Networks, Contemporary Contexts

9.30-10.00: Arrivals and Registration (with coffee)

10.00-10.15: Welcome and Introduction

10.15-11.30: Keynote and Q&A

Steve Waters | University of East Anglia
‘An insistence in my mind’: Pinter’s Writing Ethic (see abstract below)

Chair: Professor Graham Saunders | University of Birmingham

11.30-12: Coffee

12-1.45: Panel One (Chair: Dr Basil Chiasson)

Professor Ibrahim Yerebakan | Recep Tayyip Erdogan University
Harold Pinter versus Western Policies in the Middle East

Dr Łukasz Borowiec | John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin
Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party in Poland 1960-2009: translation, staging, reception

Dr Farah Ali | University of Hull
Pinter’s Homo Sacer: The Desacrilisation of Human Life in Pinter’s Political Dramas and the case of Iraq War (2003)

Professor Eckart Voigts | Technische Universität Braunschweig
Too Much of a Modern?” Pinter Staging Jewishness

1.45-2.45: Lunch

2.45-4.30: Panel Two (Chair: Professor Jonathan Bignell)

Professor Aleksandar Dunđerović | Birmingham City University
The Trial of Harold Pinter: multi-media and intertextual networks between places and people as a configuration of collective memory

Dr Billy Smart | University of Reading
Next of Kin: Harold Pinter, John Hopkins, theatre and television

Dr Kirsty Sedgman | University of Bristol
“I’m Sorry I Don’t Like Pinter!”: Audience Experience & Bristol Old Vic’s The Caretaker

Dr James Hudson | University of Lincoln
The Elite Pinter and the Pinter Elite

4.30-4.45: Break

4.45-5.45: Workshop

Dr Jonathan Heron | University of Warwick
Pinter’s Pauses in Performance: A participatory laboratory

Evening: Optional Dinner and Drinks at Local Pub

Day Two
Pinter as Playwright, Playwrights and Pinter

NB: Coffee to be available from 9.30

10.00-11.45: Panel Three (Chair: Dr David Pattie)

Professor Patrick Lonergan | National University of Ireland, Galway
Staging Pinter in Ireland: Networks and Legacies

Dr Harry Derbyshire | University of Greenwich
The Theatre of the Absurd as professional network in Pinter’s early career

Dr Drew Milne | University of Cambridge
Theatrical Environmentalism: Pinter’s plays in performance

Kate Bligh | Concordia University
Teasing the Weasel

11.45-12.15: Coffee

12.15-1.00: Dr Mark Taylor Batty on the Harold Pinter: Histories and Legacies Project 

1.00-2.0: Lunch

2.0-3.45: Panel Four (Chair: Dr Catriona Fallow)

Dr Charles Morton | Birmingham City University
‘What have you done with the scissors?’: Peter Hall’s approach to Shakespeare and Pinter

Dr Maria Elena Capitani | University of Parma
The Crimpesque: Pinter’s Legacy in the Theatre of Martin Crimp

Alex Watson | Royal Holloway, University of London
Staging Systemic Violence: Comparing the Plays of Harold Pinter and Alistair McDowall

Dr David Pattie | University of Birmingham
For What We Are About to Receive: Pinter, Butterworth, Kelly

3.45-4.00: Break

4.00-4.45pm: Closing roundtable discussion of themes and ideas arising from conference with members of the Harold Pinter: Histories and Legacies team.

5.00-6pm: Book launch and drinks reception for The Late Harold Pinter Political Dramatist, Poet and Activist by Dr Basil Chiasson with an Introduction by Dr Mark Taylor-Batty.

Conference Theme

The life and works of Harold Pinter, a pivotal figure in late twentieth-century British theatre, have been widely discussed, debated, and celebrated internationally. This engagement with Pinter has also been reflected in a worldwide ‘Pinter Industry’ in scholarship. In contrast to the focus of much critical work directly on Pinter’s theatrical outputs, ‘Staging Pinter: Networks, Collaborators, Legacies’ invites scholars and practitioners from a range of disciplines to explore a broader series of networks that Pinter produced and engaged with, both as an artist and as a citizen. How do these networks serve to offer us insight into his activity and influence while alive, and how do they continue to reverberate to define his legacy?

‘Networks’ can be understood as an exchange of ideas or practices, or as a system of interconnected people, places, or works. Over five decades, Pinter’s work has traversed various forms and genres across theatre, film, television and radio drama, poetry, prose and political activism. Pinter’s work as an actor and director has also intersected with the work of other writers and artists across a series of venues and within different forms of media. What does an emphasis on the circulation of Pinter’s theatrical work reveal about key productions or texts? How can we better understand Pinter’s practice(s) through the networks of collaboration he established during his lifetime? By tracing the documentation and dissemination of Pinter’s life and work across archival, digital, scholarly, and performance networks, what new perspectives become possible?

This conference is the first in a series of academic and public events in connection with the Harold Pinter: Histories and Legacies project. As such, we anticipate publishing either an edited collection or special issue based on the submissions to this conference. As well as work focused specifically on Pinter, we would welcome submissions exploring the work of other playwrights and theatre makers who may have been influenced by Pinter’s work and encourage submissions from scholars at all stages of their careers.

While this conference focuses primarily on Pinter’s work for the stage and his theatrical legacy, there will be further opportunities to explore Pinter’s work specifically for television, film, and radio at the University of Reading in September in 2018 and later at the University of Leeds in 2019 to mark the conclusion of the project. We therefore look forward to welcoming scholars and practitioners to be a part of an ongoing, international conversation during the course of this project (please see the project description below for more details).

Confirmed Keynote:
Steve Waters

‘An insistence in my mind’: Pinter’s Writing Ethic

This paper is a playwright’s attempt to identify the specific power and singularity of Pinter’s achievement, by means of looking closely at his  own scattered yet telling accounts of his writing process.  I challenge the attempt in Michael Billington’s seminal The Life and Work of Harold Pinter (1996) to unify Pinter’s plays under a legible, humanist rubric and attempt instead to take him at his word in order to account for the extraordinary power of the his work up until A Kind of Alaska.  To that end I also track how his process and aesthetic run counter to the main currents of British new writing from the 1950s to the 1970s.  I treat Old Times and No Man’s Land as emblematic of his writing ethic, offering an account of them as allegories of his writerly predicament.

Steve Waters is a playwright. His recent work includes Limehouse (2017), Temple (2015) and World Music (2004) at the Donmar Warehouse. Other works include Why Can’t We Live Together? (Menagerie Theatre Company/UK Tour/Soho Theatre/Theatre 503), Europa co-authored (Birmingham Rep/Dresden Staatspielhouse/Teater Polski/Zagreb Youth Theatre), Ignorance/Jahiliyyah, English Journeys and After the Gods (Hampstead), Capernaum in Sixty-Six BooksLittle Platoons, The Contingency Plan and In a Vulnerable Place (Bush), Amphibians (Bridewell), Out of Your Knowledge (Menagerie Theatre), Fast Labour (Hampstead/West Yorkshire Playhouse) and Habitats (Gate and Tron Theatre Glasgow). For the wireless, Steve has written Scribblers, Bretton Woods and The Contingency Plan for BBC Radio 3 and Deep Swimmer, The Air Gap, Little Platoons, Morning, The Parliament of Rooks and The Moderniser for BBC Radio 4. For the screen, Steve has written The Contingency Plan; Safe House. Steve is the author of The Secret Life of Plays and a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.