Remembering Influential Playwright Harold Pinter

The Nobel Prize-winning writer died Christmas day at the age of 78. He was widely viewed as one of the most influential British playwrights of his time.

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ALEX COHEN, host:

This is Day to Day from NPR News. I'm Alex Cohen. One of the world's most celebrated playwrights, Harold Pinter, has died. Pinter was a mainstay on the London theater scene since the 1950s. His works include "The Birthday Party," "The Homecoming," "The Celebration," just to name a few. Harold Pinter won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005. Here he is accepting that award.

Mr. HAROLD PINTER (Playwright, "The Birthday Party," "The Homecoming" and "The Celebration"): There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. I think it's not necessarily either true or false. It can be both true and false.

COHEN: The obscurity of those words is Pinter in a nutshell. His plays were light on plot, often taking place in a single room. Pinter offered no easy explanations for why characters acted the way they did. His dialogue was known mostly for... pregnant pauses. In fact, the word people have come to use to describe that sort of tension in silence is Pinteresque. Here's Pinter in an interview with Charlie Rose, joking about the way some people reacted to his work.

(Soundbite of interview with Charlie Rose)

Mr. PINTER: When I went to see a production of my play, "No Man's Land." I went into the bar in the interval. And a man and a woman - I couldn't escape, you know. They stand - stood in dead silence for a while. And then the man said, Oh, well, not as boring as the usual Pinteresque.

(Soundbite of laughter)

COHEN: Playwright Harold Pinter died of cancer in London. He was 78.

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