Hope for the New Year and Harold Pinter, R.I.P.
December 25, 2008
I find myself in serious conversation, all too often, with musicians who have been ignored or slightingly treated by the press. Today’s New York Times obituary of the great Harold Pinter has this passage that I will probably often refer them to in future:
The Pinters, who were temporarily unemployed and desperately poor, had an offer to act in Birmingham, and Ms. Merchant wanted to accept it. But Mr. Pinter said: “I have this play opening in London. I think I must stay. Something’s going to happen.” She replied, “What makes you think so?”
They turned down the acting offer. “The Birthday Party” opened in the West End in 1958 and received disastrous reviews. Then, prodded by the theatrical agent Peggy Ramsay, Harold Hobson, the eminent critic of The Sunday Times of London, came to see it at a matinee. What he wrote turned out to be a life-changing review.
… “Mr. Pinter, on the evidence of this work, possesses the most original, disturbing and arresting talent in theatrical London.”
It sometimes takes only one favorable, perceptive notice to turn the tide.