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Harold Pinter, For Health Reasons, Cancels Nobel-Related Appearances

World-renowned playwright Harold Pinter, who is recuperating from cancer of the oesophagus, has been ordered by his doctor to cancel all public appearances relating to his recent Nobel Prize for Literature, according to a Reuters article.

The announcement comes soon after Pinter's cancellation of his plans to travel to Sweden to "give the traditional Nobel literature lecture." He had previously scrapped plans to attend the award ceremony and banquet.

"His doctors have forbidden him to travel at this time," stated the Nobel Foundation. Despite his physical absence, a live broadcast of Pinter's lecture to the Swedish Academy will be shown on December 7th. The awards ceremony itself, which will be attended by the Swedish royal family, is scheduled for December 10th.

The 75 year-old British playwright, who has been one of the preeminent dramatists of the last fifty years, first found acclaim with 1960's The Caretaker; it was preceded by the less-successful The Birthday Party (which was better-received in a new production a few years later). Those plays set the template for a style that would become uniquely associated with Pinter. Influenced by Samuel Beckett (who would later become a friend), Pinter's plays have been called "comedies of menace," with situations, often unfolding in a single room, revealing hidden layers of danger, malice and absurdity. Other Pinter plays include The Homecoming, Old Times, No Man's Land, Betrayal, Mountain Language, Moonlight and Celebration.

Pinter recently announced that he would hang up his playwriting hat to focus on writing poetry and on political activism (he fervently opposes the war against Iraq). Pinter is also known for his work as a director and actor in addition to his renown as a playwright. As a screenwriter, he penned the scripts of The Go-Between, The French Lieutenant's Woman and a never-filmed version of Proust's In Search of Lost Time, among others. The Caretaker, The Homecoming, The Birthday Party and Betrayal have all been made into films.

Pinter joins Dario Fo, Samuel Beckett, Eugene O'Neill, Luigi Pirandello and George Bernard Shaw in the list of playwrights who have won the immensely prestigious Nobel Prize; he is the first British playwright to have done so.

A starry reading of Celebration will be performed in London to honor both the achievement and the playwright's 75th birthday; it will feature Sinead Cusack, Janie Dee, Michael Gambon, Jeremy Irons, Stephen Rea, Charles Dance and Penelope Wilton, and will be directed by Alan Stanford. The reading will be presented for three nights at the Albery Theatre by the Gate Theatre Dublin--from December 1st through 3rd.

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