Hamner Theater to offer Pinter Festival

“Unlike a lot of plays, most plays, Pinter doesn’t tell you what is going on- it’s just there,” says Roger Barker, an actor in “Silence” one of the plays by award winning playwright Harold Pinter set to open at the Hamner on Feb. 23. “I had to play it to get it,” Barker continues.

Barker, along with Lana Young and Tim McNamara, are performing “Silence” as part of the Hamner Theater’s Pinter Fest which also includes the plays “Landscape” featuring Rick Steeves and Lisa Grant, “A Slight Ache” performed by Kerry Moran, Bill Smith, and Jim Horstkott and several rarely performed “sinisterly comedic” revue sketches.

Peter Coy and Boomie Pedersen, co-artistic directors of the Hamner, share an appreciation for the challenge that is directing and acting in a Pinter play. Pedersen played in “Old Times” at Live Arts several years ago and believes that “in a time when the world moves too fast, Pinter allows us the time to sit in the silence and listen.” Coy directed “Old Times” in graduate school and has always wanted to tackle the lesser known “Silence” and “Landscape”.

“In Pinter’s plays, different memories of the past come together on stage and contradict with the present. It’s in that dissonance that the play happens, transforming everything that seemed stable right there in front of us. It’s exciting storytelling that demands that the actor be hyper-attuned to what’s happening in the other actors because there is no objective truth,” Coy says. He adds, “The only truth is what happens on stage – the turbulence, the comedy, and the ultimate redemption. This is great theater.”

Equally challenging is the role of audience at a Pinter play. The plays engage the audience in a less passive way than most plays because the audience has to fill in the blanks (or the famous Pinter pauses) of the story with their own thoughts and feelings about what is happening. The Hamner is fortunate to have local acting teacher and Pinter enthusiast Carol Pedersen leading talkbacks after four of the performances giving audiences a chance to share and discuss with the actors and directors their own “memories” of what they saw.

“Silence” and “Landscape” open Feb. 23 and run through March 3 in repertory with “A Slight Ache” and “Revue Sketches” which play March 1, 4 and 8-11. Admission is $15 (both shows for $25). For more information, to note talkback dates, and to make reservations call 361-1999 or visit www.thehamnertheater.com.


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