Austin Shakespeare’s design team plan to transform the Rollins Theatre into an even more intimate and unusual playing space by seating the audience on all four sides for Harold Pinter’s Old Times. It’s an evening of intriguing interplay, when a married couple is visited by a woman who was a friend of the wife when they were young girls in London, 20 years before.
Old Times has been called a “tantalizingly enigmatic masterpiece.” The 1 hr. 20 min. performance takes place in the rural home of filmmaker Deeley, who is characterized partly by his masculine assertiveness. What begins as a trip down memory lane quickly transforms into a seductive battle for power, as the memories become more than just stories. In the play, the visitor Anna says, “There are some things one remembers even though they may never have happened. There are things I remember which may never have happened but as I recall them so they take place.”
Artistic Director Ann Ciccolella commented, “like contemporary playwright Tom Stoppard, Pinter has actors use language to engage, attack and attract each other. In Old Times, a sexy trio creates a mysterious and ironic dance of desire that is, at moments, electric with silence.”
Auditioning for the show was a precise task of finding the right trio. Relationships of this ensemble are the catalyst to bring to life this tantalizingly enigmatic masterpiece. Jill Blackwood, who recently delighted audiences as Mary Poppins at Zach Theatre, plays “Anna,” the provocateur. Award-winning actor Ben Wolfe is “Deeley,” the cocky husband.
Nancy Eyermann, who plays the alluring wife, Kate, says, “This play excites me — the mystery of these three characters, the striking language. It’s a rare opportunity to play Pinter’s best work, and I excitedly anticipate immersing myself in Pinter’s rich world with this amazing director and these very talented actors and designers.”
Who is Harold Pinter?
Harold Pinter (1930 – 2008) entered the theater world as an actor before writing his first play in the late 1950s. He is perhaps best known for the “Pinter pause,” a menacing silence in the midst of his characters’ verbal combat. In 2005, the British playwright won the Nobel Prize in Literature, for which he composted the now-famous lecture “Art, Truth, and Politics.” His life was filled with political activism, especially for artists’ protection in totalitarian regimes. At the end of his life he was married to historian/novelist Antonia Fraser who wrote a bestselling memoir of their marriage, “Must You Go?” Pinter continued to act and write poetry throughout his life. He authored 24 filmed screenplays, including “The Remains of the Day,” “Sleuth,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and “The French Lieutenant’s Woman.”
Austin Shakespeare’s Old Times opens February 15, with performances through March.