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“Random dottiness”: Samuel Beckett and the reception of Harold Pinter’s early dramas

Bignell, J. ORCID: (2020) “Random dottiness”: Samuel Beckett and the reception of Harold Pinter’s early dramas. In: Rakoczy, A., Hori Tanaka, M. and Johnson, N. (eds.) Influencing Beckett / Beckett Influencing. Collection Karoli. L'Harmattan, Budapest & Paris, pp. 61-74. ISBN 9782343219110

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This paper analyses the significance of Samuel Beckett to the British reception of the playwright Harold Pinter’s early work. Pinter’s first professionally produced play was The Birthday Party, performed in London in 1958. Newspaper critics strongly criticized it and its run was immediately cancelled. Beckett played an important role in this story, through the association of Pinter’s name with a Beckett “brand” which was used in reviews of The Birthday Party to sum up what was wrong with Pinter’s play. Both Beckett and Pinter signified obscurity, foreignness and perversity. Rather than theatre, it was broadcasting of their dramas that cemented Beckett’s and Pinter’s public reputations. BBC Head of Drama, Martin Esslin, backed both writers, and the BBC producer and friend of Beckett’s, Donald McWhinnie, produced Pinter’s first broadcast play in 1959. Radio, and later television, helped to establish the canonical roles that Beckett and Pinter would later play.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Samuel Beckett Research Centre
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:95305
Uncontrolled Keywords:Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, BBC, Theatre, Radio, Television


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