Harold Pinter

Harold Pinter taught me how to write dialogue as opposed to conversation. There’s a brief scene in The Homecoming where one male character offers to take a glass of water from a female character, she declines in a simple direct way that shows she knows she is in control of more than the glass of water. It is dialogue with text and subtext as a power dynamic shifts.


Over the years I’ve directed One For The Road; The Servant; The Hothouse; The Homecoming. Turned out I had a good sensibility for the pacing of his plays, which I found to be much dinner that perhaps he intended. I’ve also seen various productions of The Homecoming & have a great film version of it as well. 

He has done interesting things with narrative structure – in one play the events run from the climax to the on-set. In many of them there is sense of threat, sometimes unexplained. Motivation sometimes goes unexplained forcing the audience to participate in unfolding the plot for themselves. This has allowed me as a writer not to reveal but to intimate – the power of ambiguity. Not seeing the creature but hearing it is enough.


The language of his plays is never overly poetic, or intellectually obscure. He doesn’t go for punch-lines or for startling plot twists either. He doesn’t hesitate in making his characters suffer though – emotionally and physically.



In my staging I did bring my own gender spin. In The Hothouse I opted for a female head of the psychiatric facility  – changing some of the sexual dynamic; I did the same for the Homecoming – having the professor daughter bring her new husband home to the family. The plays were structurally sound enough to support this challenging decision – though I was criticized for lack of respect. What the hell Shakespeare is now done with total gender & race blindness & it survives  quite well. In fact such changes often charges the plays with layers of meaning that weren’t there in the original text or subtext.

None For The Road

no no really I couldn’t

I’ve had enough already

I‘ll have one later

it’s too early in the evening for me

after a few I break out in handcuffs

there is no such thing as enough

another always leads to another

I‘d rather be uptight than passed out

there aren’t enough excuses

there aren’t enough examples 

to make someone 

who doesn’t understand understand


so I don’t try

I don’t even get started

I just say no and leave at that

if they persist

I step back

does it really matter 

what I have in my glass

as long as I have one

that’s enough

it has become much easier 

after all these years to say no

that invisible shield of sobriety

does its job

keeps people away 

who only trust

someone who’ll hoist another with them

pay for a round

slip out for a quick toke maybe


no I won’t take one

because that one may take me

and trust me

you don’t want to know where



every Tuesday 2019

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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