Harold Pinter's Studio

Harold Pinter (1930-2008) was a writer whose output over five decades spanned a number of genres: theatre, film, television and radio drama, poetry, prose and political essays. His work has been a part of the canon of world theatre since the 1960s, his films have contributed to the landscape and practices of British cinema, and he is often cited as one of the most significant British writers of the post-war period. His contribution to literature and to the world stage was recognised by a number of awards including the Nobel Prize for Literature (2005), the European Theatre Prize (2006), the Companion of Honour for services to literature (2002) and The Légion d’Honneur (2007). His films have attracted Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations and have won BAFTA, Palme d’Or, Writers Guild of Great Britain awards. His work has been an influence on other writers and his career has involved significant collaborations with renowned actors and directors including Dirk Bogarde, Judi Dench, Michael Gambon, John Gielgud, Peter Hall, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Losey, Ralph Richardson, Ian Rickson and Meryl Streep.

This project will aim to trace, chart, archive and contextualise every professional production/broadcast/screening of Harold Pinter’s works in the UK since 1957 and through to at least 2017. This ambition will be served by access to a range of new and established archival material, and processing and linking this material within the database. Central to this will be the Pinter archive at the British Library. The archival research, and the linkage across such materials that a database will facilitate, will help construct new appreciations of how Pinter’s work across media served to form his distinctive voice, and the impact that his output has had across his fields of influence. A focussed and nuanced understanding of the evolution of different aesthetics of performing Pinter will be constructed. The manner in which his own participation in the performance and filming of his work contributed to those aesthetics can be mapped and analysed. New investigations into his long-standing creative relationships (such as those with Peter Hall, John Bury or Eileen Diss) will offer important material. From here, an appreciation of how his activities and productions of his work had a measurable impact upon broad contemporary practice will be theorised. Knowledge, critical thought and information will be disseminated on a project website and associated informal blog. In addition to the traditional outputs of symposia, a conference, and publications, the research will further be disseminated in the form of an eBook, an iBook with rich media and interactive elements. The concept for an app will be developed, proposed as a means of allowing database material to be called-up in relation to the user’s own interactions, search queries and interests.

While issues of influence and impact often inform papers, articles, reviews and monographs on the author and his work, there has yet to be a comprehensive study that attempts in any consistent way to assess Pinter’s impact as an artist in and across the numerous fields to which he contributed; to seek to quantify and define what impact his work had as his celebrity progressed; and what legacies are left by him in the areas of cultural and social expression in which he engaged. Understanding the relationship between public understanding and awareness of a cultural figure and new interpretations of that person’s output feeds into theatre programming activities and creative processes, and helps to develop an appreciation of the relative cultural value of that output and its legacies in other works and practices.