Pinter's Funeral A Well Directed Memorial

The UK's Guardian revealed that the funeral of playwright Harold Pinter on the afternoon of December 30th before a small gathering of family and friends at Kensal Green cemetery in London was a well planned event. And, if the half-hour ceremony conducted around the graveside had a deeply moving, faintly Shakespearean and entirely secular quality to it, it was because Pinter himself had wished it that way reports the Guardian.

As recently as last August, he had sat down with his wife reports the UK publication , Antonia Fraser, and selected the readings he wanted for his funeral. He had asked actor Michael Gambon to speak at his funeral over a dinner before his passing.

Since the chosen pieces dealt with memory, mortality, passion, politics and cricket, they not only reflected Pinter's abiding concerns: they also showed his extraordinary capacity, even in death, to make his presence manifest writes the publication regarding the funeral.

Pinter died at 78 of liver cancer on Christmas Eve.

The 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.He was awarded a CBE in 1966, later turned down a knighthood and became a Companion of Honour, an exclusive award in the gift of the Sovereign, in 2002.

Pinter was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in 2002 and following treatment, announced that he was on the road to recovery.

 

Michael Gambon, sombre and heavy-coated, read the passages Pinter selected. One was a speech he delivers on stage in No Man's Land, in which Hirst pays tribute to the emotion trapped in photo albums and asks us to "tender the dead, as you would yourself be tendered, now, in what you would describe as your life".

 

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