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Harold Pinter's

The Homecoming


compiled by Beckie Mills, Charlie Payne and Rebecca Manson Jones

to the Almeida Theatre's production of The Homecoming by Harold Pinter. As we write, the production is about to begin the preview period, a week during which the director, cast and creative team make changes after each performance in response to the audience reaction (is the story clear?) fine tune the design (lighting, music, sound, costume) whilst the actors and the stage crew get used to bringing all the elements which form a successful show together. It is a very busy time as rehearsals and technical calls take place during the day with a performance in the evening. Why do we go to all this trouble? Our aim as a company is to present an eclectic mixture of high quality theatre so that the plays are revealed in a fresh light. On the first day of rehearsals, in front of Harold Pinter himself, director Michael Attenborough talked about his approach to the play. `You must start with the home. It's a world defined by four men'. Many things are absent: any expression of softness or vulnerability, and any female influence. This world has not seen a woman since wife and mother Jessie died. Although Jessie never appears, she seems to haunt the home almost from the word go. When Ruth arrives in the home, it is redefined. Everything shifts. The characters choose their words very carefully. Their words are specific, and the characters need to believe in what they are saying, even if on the next page, they then seem to believe the opposite. Humour is an important part of the play. The family home is a dangerous territory ­ you don't choose your family in the same way you choose your friends. It can be lethal territory. The characters constantly get at each other. They know how to hurt each other, they know their Achilles heels. This also provides a rich source of comedy, as the characters struggle for the upper hand. Power and status is key in the play. Mike plans to start rehearsing the scenes on their feet more quickly than he might do with another play. This is because the power struggles the characters have are both physical and articulated through speech. Where they sit, stand or move might carry as much weight as what they say. No one ever wants to be vulnerable in the play. The energy lies is the language. A moment can move from funny to horrifying within seconds. In between is the moment when drama exists. Since beginning rehearsals in December, the Almeida Theatre Company has been delighting in the questions that this play explores. Thanks to all of the creative team and the cast who have been so generous in their enthusiasm and support of the Projects work. We very much hope that you and your students are able to draw energy both from its ideas and the skill with which they are presented. We look forward to welcoming you to the Almeida soon. Rebecca Manson Jones, Charlie Payne and Beckie Mills Almeida Projects



This is the seventh Pinter play to be performed at the Almeida, and one of his very best. You will see photographs from some of the other six productions later on in this pack.

Note: Quotations from the play are contained in this pack which sometimes include explicit references to sex acts and sexually explicit language

Almeida Projects: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter



ALMEIDA PROJECTS Under the artistic directorship of Michael Attenborough, the Almeida presents an eclectic programme, ranging from redefined major classics to the cutting edge of brand new work. Our Projects reflect the main programme's ambition by finding ways to challenge and excite our participants about the work you come to see at the Almeida. We hope to inspire you to approach your own theatre work in the same spirit of generosity and risk-taking that we encourage in our rehearsal room. PROJECTS PACK This pack aims to provide an insight into our process in taking the production from research stage to performance. We hope you will use it to help you in your own investigations into the play both before and after your visit to the Almeida. This pack contains quotations from the play which use strong language. Workshops Before you see the production, one of our Projects Team may be visiting you for a workshop, bringing some of the techniques explored in the rehearsal room, the challenges the play presents and some questions. The sessions are designed to be practical and participatory so please come energised, ready to work and wearing appropriate clothes and shoes. Hosts When you come to the theatre, you will be met by one of the Projects Team who will be on hand to answer your questions and listen to your feedback about the production. Please do take advantage of this opportunity to find out more about how the production has evolved.

PROJECTS PACK CONTENTS introduction almeida projects contents production credits plot summary the characters Harold Pinter - the writer Michael Attenborough - the director design - the model box in the rehearsal room context Pinter's language practical exercises further investigation almeida projects

Danny Dyer in rehearsal Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Almeida Projects: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter



The Homecoming By Harold Pinter Cast in order of speaking: Max Lenny Sam Joey Teddy Ruth Creative team: Director Design Lighting Sound Casting Fight Arranger Assistant Director Michael Attenborough Jonathan Fensom Neil Austin John Leonard Julia Horan Terry King Nadia Latif Kenneth Cranham Nigel Lindsay Anthony O'Donnell Danny Dyer Neil Dudgeon Jenny Jules

Production credits

Jenny Jules in rehearsal Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Production Manager Company Manager Stage Manager Deputy Stage Manager Assistant Stage Manager Costume Supervisor Stage Management Placement

Paul Hennesey Rupert Carlile Suzy Bourke Lucy Taylor Ali Hunter Sarah Bowern Evelyn Stewart

For Almeida Projects Director, Almeida Projects Projects Co-ordinator Projects Administrator Projects Assistant Workshop Team: Rebecca Manson Jones Beckie Mills Charlie Payne Kirsty Hoiles Ayesha Antoine Martin Barron Kate Budgen David Ellington Abigail Graham Nicholas Khan Nadia Latif Audience Development Placement Katie Southall

Almeida Projects: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter


Plot summary

Kenneth Cranham in rehearsal Photo: Hugo Glendinning

The play is set in August 1964, in the living room of Max's house in Hackney. The action takes place over a weekend.

BACKSTORY Max is a retired butcher. He lives in a house with his brother Sam, who is a chauffeur and Max's two sons: Lenny is a pimp. Joey works `in demolition' during the day, and trains as a boxer in the evenings. Max's third son Teddy has been away f o r n i n e y e a r s . T ed d y w o rk s a s a Doctor of Philosophy at a university in America . Teddy has been married to his wife Ruth for nine years, and they have three sons. Ruth was born in the same area of London as the family.

Act One Scene One The play opens with Lenny reading the newspaper. Max enters looking for some scissors and is ignored by Lenny. Max talks about his late wife Jessie with a mixture of affection and loathing: `she wasn't such a bad woman. Even though it made me sick just to look at her rotten stinking face, she wasn't such a bad bitch.' He also talks about his late friend MacGregor and the fact that they were very close. Lenny asks him what he thinks about placing a bet on the horseracing. Lenny regularly bets. Max reminisces about horses, claiming he knows far more about them than Lenny. Lenny changes the subject and criticises Max's cooking. Max's brother Sam arrives home from working as a chauffeur and talks about his day. He proudly describes how he drove an American to London Airport (which we now know as Heathrow). Sam presents the cigars he was given by the American, who told Sam he was the best driver he ever had. Lenny goes to his room. Max teases Sam for never getting married. Sam reminisces about Jessie, and brings up the idea of MacGregor and Max sharing a woman. Max's youngest son Joey arrives home from his boxing training at the gym. Max tries to advise Joey on his boxing. Joey rejects him. Max snaps at Sam. Lenny returns, and argues with Max.


Above having a good bang on the back seat, are you? Yes. I leave that to others.


Almeida Projects: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter


Plot summary

Pictured: Neil Dudgeon and Jenny Jules Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Act One Scene Two Ruth and Teddy arrive in the house at midnight. Teddy is impressed that his key still works. They assume everyone else is asleep. They have an awkward conversation about whether to go upstairs to bed or not. Teddy takes Ruth's behaviour as a sign of illness. Ruth decides to go for a walk, takes the key, and leaves. Lenny appears from his downstairs bedroom and greets Teddy. Teddy does not mention that he has brought Ruth to the house. Teddy decides, with some encouragement from Lenny, to go up to bed. Lenny, having heard Ruth when she arrived, sits and waits for her return. Ruth and Lenny have a tense and loaded conversation which seems to be about more than the glass of water they are fighting over. Lenny attempts to intimidate and disarm Ruth by telling her stories about his violent encounters with women. Ruth responds by sexually intimidating Lenny. She downs the glass in one and goes upstairs to bed. The glass becomes a symbol of sexual power. Lenny is left confused. Max has been woken up by the noise and comes downstairs, asking if Lenny is drunk. Lenny does not tell Max about Ruth and Teddy's arrival. Lenny changes the subject and questions Max about his mother and the past. They argue. Max spits at him. Act One Scene Three It is Sunday morning, 6.30 am. Joey is in front of the mirror shadowboxing. Max comes in. Both he and Joey are dressed. Max asks

Teddy Look, it's all right, really. I'm here. I mean,...I'm with you. There's no need to be nervous. Are you nervous? Ruth No. Teddy There's no need to be.

Lenny Do you mind if I hold your hand? Ruth Why? Lenny Just a touch.

Almeida Projects: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter


Joey if he wants to come to the football. Joey declines. He is boxing. Sam enters. He has been doing the washing up. Max and lashes out by shouting at Sam. Max thinks Sam resents his breakfast duties. Max recalls a story from his dead father, which may or may not be true. Teddy and Ruth come down the stairs wearing dressing gowns. Max, who is shocked, assumes that Ruth is a `tart'. Teddy explains that they're married. Max becomes angry, shouting `chuck them out'. Joey tries to keep the peace. Lenny enters in his dressing gown. In his anger, Max punches Joey in the stomach. Max then begins to collapse due to the exertion of the blow. Sam tries to help Max, who hits Sam across the head with his walking stick. After things have calmed down, Max questions Ruth and Teddy about their life. They have three boys in America.

Nigel Lindsay in rehearsal Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Plot summary


I gave birth to three grown men! All on my own bat. What have you done?

Act Two Scene One Afternoon. Max, Teddy, Lenny and Sam are sitting about lighting cigars. Joey enters with a coffee tray. Ruth hands out the coffee and they all sit. Max tells Ruth about Jessie. He then talks about his life as a butcher. He mocks Sam's job as a chauffeur. Sam and Max argue. Sam leaves. Max then talks to Teddy, and asks him why he didn't share his wedding with the family. Teddy talks about his life in America: `we've got everything we want. It's a very stimulating environment.' Max asks if the children are missing their mother. Teddy quickly dismisses the question. Lenny questions Teddy about his work. Lenny shows off his power of rhetoric, and asks Teddy questions about existential philosophy to make Teddy feel small. Ruth joins the discussion, which becomes loaded with sexual innuendo. Max, Joey and Lenny leave to go to the gym. Teddy suggests that he and Ruth go home. Ruth asks why. Teddy tries to remind Ruth how great her life is in America. He says it's clean in America. Teddy leaves to pack. Lenny appears and talks to Ruth, Ruth tells Lenny she used to be `a photographic model for the body.' Ruth reminisces about her modelling, trying to seduce Lenny. Teddy returns with the cases. Lenny puts a Miles Davis jazz record on the radiogram. Lenny asks Ruth for one dance before she goes. They dance slowly. Teddy stands with Ruth's coat. Max and Joey come in through the front door and stand. Lenny kisses Ruth. They stand, kissing. Joey takes Ruth's arm, smiles at Lenny and sits kissing Ruth on the sofa. Lenny caresses Ruth's hair. Teddy stands watching and says nothing. Ruth and Joey embrace as Max talks about how he approves of marriage. Ruth eventually pushes Joey away and asks for something to eat and drink. Max explains that he's never read any of Teddy's books. Teddy replies, `You wouldn't understand my works. You wouldn't have the faintest idea what they were about.' Teddy talks about `intellectual equilibrium'. He is very precise and chooses his words very carefully. The speech highlights the gulf between Teddy and the rest of his family.


That woman was the backbone to this family.

Ruth Don't you like your family? Teddy Which family? Ruth Your family here. Teddy Of course I like them. What are you talking about? Pause. Ruth You don't like them as much as you thought you

Almeida Projects: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter


Plot summary

Danny Dyer and Kenneth Cranham in rehearsal Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Act Two Scene Two Evening. Ruth and Joey are upstairs in the bedroom. Sam tries to console Teddy, telling him he was always his mother's favourite son. Lenny returns and makes a dig at Teddy about his job. Teddy informs Lenny that he ate the cheese roll Lenny had left out. They argue. Joey enters. Lenny asks how it's been going upstairs in the bedroom. Joey says he didn't `get all the way'. Lenny finds this difficult to understand, and thinks Ruth must be `a tease'. Lenny tells Teddy a long anecdote about him and Joey having sex with two women on a bomb site. Max and Sam enter. Max asks `where's the whore?' Max suggests they should keep Ruth in the house, and ask her if she wants to stay with them. They discuss paying her to stay, and Lenny then suggests pimping her out. Joey is less keen on the idea, saying: `I didn't think I was going to have to share her!' Lenny and Max invite Teddy to share the responsibility of whoring his own wife. Ruth comes downstairs, dressed, and Teddy introduces the family's plan. Ruth is not distressed by the proposal, and responds with her own series of demands for the kind of flat she would need. Although she says, `it might prove a workable arrangement', it is not clear whether Ruth will actually go through with the plan or not. Sam suddenly comes forward and asserts in one breath, `MacGregor had Jessie in the back of the cab as I drove them along'. He then croaks and collapses. Max reacts unsympathetically, and moans `he's not even dead!' Teddy leaves Ruth and makes his way to the airport without once expressing any anger or remorse. Ruth does not go. She sits relaxed in her chair. Joey puts his head in her lap. Max is distressed by Ruth's behaviour, and suspects that she may betray them. He begins to stammer and falls to the floor in pain, declaiming to Ruth `I'm not an old man'. As Max utters the final line, `kiss me', Lenny stands, watching.


I've been the whole hog plenty of times. can be happy...and not go the whole hog.


What's he done? Dropped dead?

Lenny Yes. Max A corpse? A corpse on my floor? Get him out of here! Clear him out of here!

Almeida Projects: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter


the characters

Kenneth Cranham(Max) A man of seventy. A retired butcher. Has three sons. A widower.

Nigel Lindsay (Lenny) A man in his early thiries. A pimp. The middle son.

Anthony O'Donnell (Sam) A man of sixty-three. A chauffeur. Max's brother

Danny Dyer (Joey) A man in his middle twenties. Works in demolition and is a part-time boxer. The youngest son.

Neil Dudgeon(Teddy) A man in his middle thirties. University professor and Director of philosophy. Left the family to live in America nine years ago. The eldest son. Jenny Jules (Ruth) A woman in her early thirites. Left her home 9 years ago to marry Teddy and move to America. Has three sons. Used to be a model `of the body.' Almeida Projects: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter


On being a writer "A writer's life is a highly vulnerable, almost naked activity. We don't have to weep about that. The writer makes his choice and is stuck with it. But it is true to say that you are open to all the winds, some of them icy indeed. You are out on your own, out on a limb. You find no shelter, no protection ­ unless you lie ­ in which case of course you have constructed your own protection and, it could be argued, become a politician. I have often been asked how my plays come about. I cannot say. Nor can I ever sum up my plays, except to say that this is what happened. That is what they said. That is what they did.

Harold Pinter Photo: Martin Rosenbaum

Harold Pinter

Most of the plays are engendered by a line, a word or an image. The given word is often shortly followed by the image." Taken from Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize winning speech 2005

"In the play that became The Homecoming I saw a man enter a stark room and ask his question of a younger man sitting on an ugly sofa reading a racing paper. I somehow suspected that A was a father and that B was his son, but I had no proof. "

Nobel Prize winning speech 2005

Biography Harold Pinter was born in Hackney, London, on 10th October 1930. He was educated at Hackney Downs Grammar School and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and Central School of Speech and Drama. He has directed many productions of his own plays as well as plays by other writers, including James Joyce, Noel Coward, Tennessee Williams, David Mamet and Simon Gray. He has performed on stage, film, television and radio. He was awarded a CBE in 1966. In 2005, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He is one of the few writers to have been honoured with his own adjective: 'Pinteresque'. In a menacing situation, mundane speech hides a fierce struggle for territory.

"Meaning begins in the words, in the action, continues in your head and ends nowhere. There is no end to meaning. Meaning which is resolved, parcelled, labelled and ready for export is dead, impertinent ­ and meaningless".

Harold Pinter quoted by Martin Esslin `Creative Process and Meaning' p.8

Select Playography The Room The Birthday Party The Caretaker The Dumb Waiter The Homecoming Old Times No Man's Land Betrayal One for the Road Mountain Language Party Time Celebration 1957 1960 1960 1961 1964 1971 1975 1978 1984 1988 1991 2000

Almeida Projects: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter


A word from the director Michael Attenborough was asked to write an article on Harold Pinter in 2005 following Pinter's Nobel Prize win. Here are some extracts from the article, which was published in the Independent Magazine. In this section he describes the affect Pinter's plays have on an audience: You get seduced in and then you get smacked. You get pulled into the atmosphere and the tension between the characters and then get duly shocked, thrilled or surprised. You're always on a knifeedge of involvement, and it's precisely this lack of comfort that make his plays so intriguing...

Michael Attenborough in rehearsal Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Michael Attenborough

But nevertheless we do make up a unit, Teddy, and you're an integral part of it. When we all sit round the backyard having a quiet gander at the night sky, there's always an empty chair standing in the circle, which is in fact yours. Lenny

To direct a Pinter play, you have to identify what's going on beneath the skin, what people are trying to achieve, who is trying to dominate, influence or manipulate whom. Harold never pontificates about what's going on under the surface of his plays because he trusts that good actors and good directors will make the surface itself transparent enough and exciting enough to communicate the depth to the audience. Some people make the mistake of overwriting to convey that depth, whereas Pinter does almost the reverse... He doesn't suffer fools gladly. He would challenge you, but also pay you the compliment of listening very carefully to what you say. If you are in his company, he'll treat you with dignity, but if he thinks you're talking crap, he'll tell you so... Harold speaks his mind and he's angry. He was a conscientious objector and anger nearly always comes from a place that is linked with personal experience. I think he's always had an extinctive sympathy for the's not overt politics, but you can see the way in which people abuse power and exert power.

Michael Attenborough, Danny Dyer, and Kenneth Cranham in rehearsal Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Almeida Projects: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter



The Almeida is a "found space", and was not originally built as theatre. Designing for our theatre requires great ingenuity because there is no conventional backstage space (wings), nor is there a fly tower to allow us to lower and raise big pieces of scenery. This means each designer has to choose whether to reveal the building as it was, or to transform it into a conventional theatre space. We do however have an area under the stage (substage) where actors exit to and enter from, where props are kept and where quick costume changes take place. We can also cut holes in the floor for trap doors through which to raise and lower set items.

The Almeida Theatre - empty space Photo: Lara Platman

The model box from below Designer: Jonathan Fensom Photo: Stage Management

Almeida Projects: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter



The model box from above Designer: Jonathan Fensom Photo: Stage Management


At designer Jonathan Fensom's model box presentation to the cast on the first day of rehearsal, Mike Attenborough explains `the idea is to have no more on stage than is referred to in the script. It's a world without a touch for femininity'. The men knocked through a wall, just after their mother died. At the back, we can see a staircase upstage right, and the front door upstage left. The stage is very wide, which is very good for the play. The stage directions describe `a large room, extending the width of the stage.' The design of the room is regular and formal, we've not gone for any angles except the knocked through archway, which is slightly crooked. Jonathan explains that this is to disconcert the audience slightly and open up the space, inviting you in to the room. We imagine the kitchen and Lenny's room both being off in the same direction stage right. There will be real tiles, and boards under the lino floor to make it sound right when you walk on it. Strips of lino on the stairs will provide the same effect. Harold Pinter observed that on the model box, the sofa seemed to dominate, and was too light in colour. He explained `Max's chair is the centre of operations.' Mike explained that the overall feeling of the set was `nicotine-y' ­ many cigars are smoked during the play. It should also have an institutional feel, with brown gloss paint, and a section of carpet covering some of the floor.

It's a fine room, don't you think? Actually there was a wall across there...with a door. We knocked it down...years make an open living area. The structure wasn't affected you see. My mother was dead. Teddy

THE MODEL BOX The model box is a scaled down 1:25 version of what the set will look like in the theatre. This is created mainly for use by the production team, the setbuilders and painters, and the lighting designer as a reference. It is also useful for the actors and director when thinking about how to stage the production.

Almeida Projects: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter


In the rehearsal room

Rehearsals for the Homecoming began on 10th December 2007.

The rehearsal process has been longer than usual. The company took a break between Christmas and New Year.

Kenneth Cranham (Max) arrived on day one having learnt Act One of the text. Some actors prefer to learn their lines in advance, others find it easier to learn as they go along. Pinter's dialogue is very specific every word, syllable or punctuation mark carries meaning. Mike would pick the actors up on the smallest paraphrase as they rehearsed.

Unusually for Mike's rehearsal processes, the actors were `up on their feet' from day three, rather than spending the first week discussing the text round a table. What the characters do physically, and how they interect with and react to the other characters is vital with Pinter's work. This provides clues for the actor to how they might say a line.

Michael Attenborough in rehearsal Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Harold Pinter made two amendments to his text on the first day of rehearsals. Ruth and Teddy have been away for nine years, not six. Max says `fuck off' rather than `flake off'. `Flake off' was used in the orginial text when the Lord Chamberlain censored the use of the word `fuck' in 1964. Points for discussion There were many important questions for the company to discuss in the rehearsal room in order to stage the production. Why does Teddy say nothing to stop Ruth? Do Max and Lenny tell the truth? Was Ruth a glamour model? Why has she left her children? Are Teddy, Lenny and Joey all Max's children?

In most cases, it is left for the audience to make up their own minds. For the cast, however, the decisions had to be made in order to portray each character convincingly. For example, Lenny may have decided that the story he tells about two women is a lie. If so, the actor needs to know that. Teddy's arrival with Ruth causes a shake up in the family's routine. The title `The Homecoming' is as much a reference to Ruth as to Teddy: she comes back to the area she used to live. She fulfils a role in a family that seem to need her. Ruth is played by a black actor, but to these men, this is irrelevant. Her being a woman is enough to create sparks within the male dynamic. If the play was spread across a longer timescale, the fact she is black might become an issue, but as we see them only for a concentrated time, the emphasis remains on her sexuality and femininity. The play is a battle for territory. The key themes include: family, loyalty, masculinity, women as part whore/part mother figure, sexuality, sex as currency. When Teddy looks on while both Lenny and Joey kiss Ruth, it is not sexy, or erotic, or intimate, but an assertion of power, and possession. Teddy says nothing, nor does he join in their conversation about asking Ruth to stay with them. He refuses to join in their games by remaining a distanced observer. He is not, in this production, a weak victim.

Almeida Projects: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter


Selected Timeline 1940-1965 3 September 1939 Britain declares war on Germany in response to the invasion of Poland 10 May 1940 Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister of the coalition government 26 May 1940 Thousands of Allied troops are evacuated from Dunkirk, France 13 August 1940 Battle of Britain begins with heavy raids by the German Luftwaffe

Lindsay Duncan in The Room Photo: Ivan Kyncl


7 September 1940 'Blitz' begins with a massive daylight raid by the Luftwaffe November 1942 'Beveridge Report' lays the foundations for the Welfare State, including the creation of the National Health Service in 1948 May 1944 Butler Act creates free secondary education June 1944 Allied forces land in Normandy on D-Day, starting the liberation of France 4 February 1945 Allied leaders shape the post-war world at the Yalta Conference May 1945 Britain celebrates the end of war on Victory in Europe Day 26 July 1945 Labour wins the general election by a landslide 15 August 1945 Victory over Japan Day marks the end of World War Two 5 July 1948 National Health Service is established 29 July 1948 Olympic Games open at Wembley Stadium in London 8 June 1949 George Orwell's novel 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' is published 23 February 1950 Labour wins the general election with Clement Attlee returned as prime minister 29 August 1950 British troops arrive to support US forces in the Korean War 23 October 1951 Conservatives under Winston Churchill win the general election 6 February 1952 Elizabeth II succeeds her father, George VI 25 April 1953 Watson and Crick publish their discovery of the structure of DNA 5 April 1955 Winston Churchill retires as Prime Minister

Almeida Projects: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter


26 May 1955 Conservatives win the general election, with Sir Anthony Eden as Prime Minister 22 September 1955 Commercial television starts with the first ITV broadcast 11 February 1956 'Cambridge Spies' surface in Moscow after disappearing in 1951 8 May 1956 John Osborne's play 'Look Back in Anger' is staged 5 July 1956

Peter Howitt, Barry Foster and Dorothy Tutin in Party Time Photo: Ivan Kyncl


Worsening pollution prompts the passing of the Clean Air Act 17 October 1956 Britain switches on its first nuclear power station 5 November 1956 Britain and France invade Egypt after nationalisation of the Suez Canal 9 January 1957 Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden resigns and is replaced by Harold Macmillan 15 May 1957 Britain tests its first hydrogen bomb 5 December 1958 Motorway system opens with the M6 Preston bypass 8 October 1959 Conservatives under Harold Macmillan win the general election. 14 January 1963 France vetoes Britain's entry to the European Common Market October 1963 New universities open and students get state support 19 October 1963 Conservative Sir Alec Douglas-Home becomes Prime Minister 1964 Abolition of Resale Price Maintenance prompts the rise of supermarkets 15 October 1964 Labour wins the general election, with Harold Wilson as Prime Minister 12 July 1965 Comprehensive education system is initiated First production of The Homecoming by Harold Pinter 8 November 1965 Death penalty is abolished 30 July 1966 England win the football World Cup 1967 Abortion and homosexuality are legalised

Almeida Projects: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter


Pinter's language

Danny Dyer, Lia Williams and Steven Pacey in Celebration Photo: Ivan Kyncl

Bill Nighy and Cheryl Campbell in Betrayal Photo: Ivan Kyncl

Teddy Well, we were only here for a few days, weren't we? We might as well...cut it short, I think.

Punctuation and stage directions in Pinter's work give the actor and director clues about how to say a line, and what it means. Even Pinter himself has expressed different ideas about what the punctuation means at different points in his career. Here are some possible definitions: - dash A new thought has occurred / someone has been cut off mid-line. ... dot dot dot A thought tails off / the sentence isn't completed, but meaning is implied... . full stop a statement is made

Lenny Well, the old man'll be pleased to see you. Ruth Good. Lenny What did you say? Ruth Good. Pause.


The character is at a loss for words (pause). They are reacting emotionally to the situation.


The character cannot or will not speak. Pinter said in 1962:

Try the practical exercise on the next page. Pay attention to the pauses!

"There are two silences. One where no word is spoken. The other where perhaps a torrent of language is being employed. The speech is speaking of a language locked beneath it. That is its continual reference. The speech we hear is an indication of what we don't hear. It is a necessary avoidance, a violent, a sly, anguished or mocking smoke screen which keeps the other in its place." However, when Pinter directs his own work, he might cut a pause if it seems unnecessary, or encourage an actor to play one which may not be in the text, as he did during the production of No Man's Land at the National Theatre in 2001.

Almeida Projects: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter


Practical exercises

What is status? The power or control a character has at any point during the play. Consider the following ways of showing status on stage: 1) eye contact (look away or look directly at someone) 2) use of space (close to the other characters or far away) 3) tension (calm/worried) 4) stillness (shuffling around or standing in one fixed position) 5) use of voice (loud/soft, high/low, fast/slow)

Read the extract below aloud. Who is in control in the scene? Does it change at any point? Ruth is Lenny's sister-in-law. They have just met for the first time in the living room of Lenny's family home. Ruth is holding a glass of water.


Jenny Jules in rehearsal Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Give me the glass. I haven't quite finished. You've consumed quite enough, in my opinion. No, I haven't. Quite sufficient, in my own opinion. Not in mine, Leonard.



LENNY RUTH LENNY Don't call me that, please. Why not? That's the name my mother gave me.


Just give me the glass. RUTH No.


LENNY RUTH I'll take it, then. If you take the glass... I'll take you.


LENNY How about me taking the glass without you taking me? Why don't I just take you?



LENNY You're joking.

In pairs, try performing the scene a number of times, using each of the ways of showing status in turn. What impact does that have on the scene? What changes in the relationship between the two characters?

Almeida Projects: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter


Research used in the rehearsal room Harold Pinter: Art, Truth and Politics (DVD Illuminations 2005). A Casebook on Harold Pinter's The Homecoming (ed. John & Anthea Lahr, 1971). The State of the Nation: British Theatre Since 1945. By Michael Billington. Faber & Faber (2007). Conversations with Pinter By Mel Gussow (2004). Pinter the Playwright By Martin Esslin (1970).

Kenneth Cranham in rehearsal Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Further Investigation

Pinter in the Theatre Compiled and edited by Ian Smith. Nick Hern Books (2005). Pinter: A Celebration Introduced by Richard Eyre (2001). Pinter at Sixty Edited by Katherine H. Burkman, & John L. Kundert-Gibbs (1993). Pinter at 70 : a Caseboook Edited by Lois Gordon. New York : Routledge (2001). Various Voices: Prose, Poetry, Politics 1948- 1998. London/New York. By Harold Pinter. Faber & Faber/Grove (1998). Venice By Charlie Waites.

Other books About Pinter: The Playwright and the Work By Dr. Mark Batty (Faber & Faber, 2005). The Cambridge Companion to Harold Pinter Edited by Peter Raby (Cambridge University Press, 2001) Faber Critical Guide to Harold Pinter By Bill Naismith (Faber & Faber, 2000). The Life and Works of Harold Pinter By Michael Billington (Faber & Faber, 1996).

Almeida Projects: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter


Almeida Projects

The Homecoming Projects Pack

Compiled by Beckie Mills, Charlie Payne and Rebecca Manson Jones

Almeida Projects draws on the expertise of theatre artists in the UK and brings them together with our community partners, promoting innovative creative exchange between the Almeida and its local community.

Since our launch in 2003, we have worked with over 5,000 people from schools and other organisations across Islington on a diverse range of projects based on the Almeida's plays and operas. We also run introductory workshops for students from across the UK visiting our unique theatre building. For more information about Almeida Projects, please visit the Almeida's website, or contact us directly by emailing [email protected] or by calling 020 7288 4916.

The Homecoming by Harold Pinterl was

produced at the Almeida Theatre from 31st January - 22nd March 2008. The information in this Projects Pack is correct at the time of going to Press. All rights reserved. © Almeida Theatre, Published January 2008. The Almeida Theatre is a Registered Charity No. 282167. The Almeida Theatre Company Limited, Almeida Street, London N1 1TA Use of this Projects Pack is authorised in connection with the Projects work at the Almeida Theatre. Any further use in any form must be approved by the creators. The copyright of all original material remains with the creators. Script extracts from The Homecoming by Harold Pinter Design images by Jonathan Fensom Production/Rehearsal Photography by Hugo Glendinning Almeida Projects photography by Bridget Jones.

Almeida Projects is supported by:

Principal Supporter: The Lehman Brothers Foundation Europe Sir John Cass's Foundation Raymond Cazalet Charitable Trust The Goldsmith's Company The Worshipful Company of Grocers The Paul Hamlyn Foundation The Kreitman Foundation The Mackintosh Foundation The Wates Foundation The Peter Harrison Foundation

Almeida Projects: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter



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