So, in a very nice turn of events, I've been cast in Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, at Defunkt Theatre (http://defunktheatre.com/home.html) here in Portland, OR. We will perform October 12 through November 17 if you are in town and want to come to the production. Get your tickets early, though, because it is a very small house and is likely to sell out.
The role I am so lucky to play is Teddy, the only brother of 3 to leave home. For those of you who haven't had the delight/disgust of reading any of Pinter's works, I highly recommend it. You can pick up a copy of the play on amazon for only 3 dollars. Definitely a must-have for your theatre library.
Now, to be very clear: This play is a black comedy. It is absolutely hilarious. It feels like a highly dysfunctional sitcom at times. Like "All In The Family" All in the Family: Complete First Season meets "Seinfeld" Seinfeld - The Complete Series.
There is a lot of debate and scholarly discourse surrounding this play, and almost every dissertation on the piece goes psychological, which is understandable for a Nobel Prize winning playwright such as Pinter. But while taken at face value the play seems macabre and heavy, with Pinter's patent pauses, it really is a wonderful comedy.
So it will be my goal to let these analyses color my treatment, while not letting them define it. This is a challenge when you are researching a role and there is so much material to peruse regarding a piece that has 47 years of theatre companies producing it, reviews being written about it, students analyzing it, scholars pontificating about it, etc...
And I am to perform this piece in the shadow of some of the most brilliant performers of the 20th Century, including Ian Holm as a young man: The Homecoming- a seminal performance; Vivien Merchant, of such greats as Alfie (1966); and the famous English actor Terence Rigby. Not to mention Brian Dennehy, Best Seller, and Ian McShane Deadwood: The Complete Series.
Without giving too much of the plot away, here's a little synopsis:
Teddy and Ruth, his wife of 6 years, arrive at Teddy's family home for the first time. Teddy has been away from his 2 brothers, his uncle, and father for this long. His family has remained in their London home and survive without their matriarchal figure, Jessie, since she died many years ago. Max, Teddy's father, immediately calls Ruth a "Filthy Scrubber", in other words a whore, and demands they leave at once. But, as fate would have it, all the men in the house immediately fall for Ruth, and Teddy is left out in the cold.
I will say that it seems to me to be specifically written in a way that allows for a number of different interpretations of the story. In my opinion, this solidifies the play, and Pinter's place in history, by keeping the play salient and without the dread condition of outdatedness. It allows for directors to define the story anew with every production. I think it's a reflection of Pinter's ego, that he can keep himself current long after his death, but also a testament to his brilliance, in that he can write a vehicle for actors and directors that is timeless and organic. For this trait I see the play as a truly brilliant exercise in scholarly playwriting while keeping the animalistic nature of the human experience intact.
I will continue to blog about my experience working on this play, and the journey that I undergo unravelling this complex and unique piece of living literature. So stay tuned!