On Monday 5 February PEN held a very special evening in honour of Vice President Harold Pinter, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005 when the Swedish Academy paid tribute to a writer whose work ‘uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression’s closed rooms’. The evening took place in the suitably grand and unique surroundings of Cumberland Lodge, of which PEN’s President Alastair Niven is Principal. Guests enjoyed a tour by Alastair’s wife Helen of the splendid seventeenth-century house, now occupied by the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Foundation of St. Catharine’s. The Lodge was once home to the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough in the eighteenth century and in 1936 was the setting for crucial talks in the Abdication crisis.
Following a champane reception in the Lodge’s Tapestry Hall, guests were treated to an entertaining and moving set of readings in the Drawing Room by special guests Alan Rickman, Lindsay Duncan and Michael Pennington, whose wonderful performances brought Pinter’s unmistakeable and unique writing to life. The readings included Request Stop by Lindsay Duncan, Alan Rickman as Mick from The Caretaker, Act 3 and recitals of the poems Death, Poem (Don’t Look…) and To My Wife by Michael Pennington.
After further merriment the evening drew to an unwelcome close and those not staying for the night made their way back to London.
All proceeds from the evening will go towards PEN’s work in defence of writers and free expression, a cause so important for Harold as for all of us.
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/events/reportsonrecentevents/haroldpintercelebration/