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Harold Pinter: Mountain Language

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Jade Podmore

on 7 March 2013

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Transcript of Harold Pinter: Mountain Language

Adam Atlasi, Oliver Cumins, Jack Heaton, Sanchia Kirkpatrick, Jade Podmore, Beki Smith, Katherine Spencer, Georgie Sykes. 'MOUNTAIN LANGUAGE' Becky Smith
Adam Atlasi
Georgie Sykes
Jack Heaton
Kathrine Spencer
Sanchia Kirkpatrick
Oliver Cumins
Jade Podmore Harold Pinter: Mountain Language

This presentation will discuss our choice to re-stage Harold Pinter’s 'Mountain Language'. We will explain and outline the contextual significance of staging the play today and also our dramaturgical, scenographic and performative choices through our concept of a theatre in education project.







There is a noticable transition in Pinter's work from the ambigious to the overtly political. As a public figure he became more openly politically active.



In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Pinter said of 'Mountain Language':

'Mountain Language... remains brutal, short and ugly. 'Mountain Language' lasts only 20 minutes, but it could go on for hour after hour, on and on and on, the same pattern repeated over and over again, on and on, hour after hour.' HAROLD PINTER THE WRITING CONTEXT OF
'MOUNTAIN LANGUAGE' CONTEXTUAL SIGNIFICANCE FOR TODAY: WHY STAGE THIS PLAY, NOW? PRODUCTION CONCEPT THEATRE IN EDUCATION… STAGING AND USE OF LEVELS... DRAMATURGICAL AND SCENOGRAPHIC CHOICES... JACK HYLTON ROOM
- Perfect space due to the Balcony and various Levels.
- Levels and Balcony facilitate an atmosphere of oppression; guilt in the case of the audience.
- Guilt: audience is a spectator of the oppression occurring on stage; they are caught in a zone of inaction, which
interpolates the audience into the oppression on stage.


MICHEL FOUCAULT: PANOPTICON
- Adapted from Jeremy Bentham's original prison design.
- Through Panoptic theory, Foucault explores the
concept of oppression through constant visibility.
- Audience viewing from a higher level in a state of inaction
creates the effect of visual oppression that Foucault applied to society.

COMMUNITY PROJECT?
- We need to be adaptable to other spaces and facilities.
- We would need: basic and easily transportable staging blocks as a means of creating the levels. We coulpotentially
do this by positioning the audience seating onto blocks, whilst the action takes place on the floor to recreate the
effect of the balcony.
- Potentially ‘In the round’: maintains the effect of Foucault's Panopticon and the concept of constant visibility
applicable to the Panopticon. STAGING AND USE OF LEVELS… TO CONCLUDE… Foucault, Michel, 1977, ‘Discipline and Punish’ cited in, A Critical and Cultural Theory Reader, eds. Antony Easthorp and Kate McGowan (Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2004), pp. 94-101.

National Geographic, 2013. Vanishing Languages. [online] Available at http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/07/vanishing-languages/rymer-text
[Accessed 3/3/2013]

Tibet Oral History Project, 2012. Oral History Interviews. [online] Available at < http://tibetoralhistory.org/interviews.html > [Accessed3/3/2013]

Human Rights Watch, 2013. Tibet Since 1950: Silence, Prison or Exile. [online] Available at < http://www.hrw.org/legacy/pubweb/sperlingcont.html> [Accessed 3/3/2013]

Billington, M., 1997, The Life and Work of Harold Pinter. 1st ed. Faber and Faber (Limited :Queen Square London) BIBLIOGRAPHY CONCLUSION TARGET AUDIENCE...


Guilt: audience is a spectator of the oppression occurring on stage.
Audience caught in a zone of inaction.
Interpolates the audience into the oppression on stage.
Oppressors on a higher level, the oppressed on the lower.
Levels within the rankings with higher ranked officers on slightly higher levels.



Requires adaptability.
Basic and easily transportable staging blocks to create levels.
Positioning the audience on blocks recreates the effect of the balcony.
Potential for an 'in the round' performance.

By 2100, more than 7,000 languages spoken on Earth may disappear.
('Human Rights Watch', 2013.)
Children often learn a dominant language, not their parents native language.
('National Geographic', 2013.)


Mandarin Chinese, the official language of Beijing, is also the language of the Tibetan government .
92-94% of Tibetans speak their native language.
('Tibet Oral History Project', 2012.)

Our piece is not about Tibet, but more about a situation which would resonate with the Tibetan people.

Holds universal theme of language oppression.


Ai Wei Wei – political activist, uses the arts to confront the Chinese Government.



Reaching out to school students in Hong Kong through performance and workshops
Applying to the Amnesty Arts Fund.
Schools in Hong Kong
In particular United World College
(Li Po Chun)


Raise awareness of Tibet’s situation
Preserve Hong Kong’s native Cantonese


Spend a week at each school performing at the beginning of the week, followed by a post-show talk, and then in the coming days running workshops with the students and local community. Billington, M., 1997, The Life and Work of Harold Pinter. 1st ed. Faber and Faber (Limited:Queen Square London)

Human Rights Watch, 2013. Tibet Since 1950: Silence, Prison or Exile. [online] Available at: < http://www.hrw.org/legacy/pubweb/sperlingcont.html> [Accessed 03/03/2013]


National Geographic, 2013. Vanishing Languages. [online] Available at: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/07/vanishing-languages/rymer-text
[Accessed 03/03/2013]

Tibet Oral History Project, 2012. Oral History Interviews. [online] Available at:
< http://tibetoralhistory.org/interviews.html > [Accessed 03/03/2013]

Standing Committee on Language Education and Research. ACTION PLAN TO RAISE LANGUAGE STANDARDS IN HONG KONG, [online] Available at: < http://cd1.edb.hkedcity.net/cd/scolar/html/finalreport_en.pdf >, [Accessed 04/03/2013].

UWC. Mission and Values. [online] available at <http://www.uwc.org/about_uwc/mission_and_vision.aspx > [Accessed 04/03/2013].

Pinter, Harold. 2005. 'Nobel Lecture: Art Truth and Politics' [online]Available at: <http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2005/pinter-lecture-e.html >
[Accessed 06/03/2013]

Lennox A., 2008. [online] Available at: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/content.asp?CategoryID=11543 [Accessed 1st March 2013] BIBLIOGRAPHY We have aimed to show you how we have developed our performance and why we chose to stage Pinter's play in this way. We also hope we have been successful in presenting to you, how we would hope to organise this performance if it were to become a touring performance as part of a theatre in education project, designed to raise awareness about the threat to the Tibeten language.




We will now take any questions. WELCOME EXTINCTION OF LANGUAGES LANGUAGE: TIBET AND CHINA POLITICAL THEATRE THE PLAY HOW WE PLAN TO HELP OUR TARGET AUDIENCE WHY? JACK HYLTON ROOM THEATRE IN EDUCATION PROJECT OUR INSPIRATION THANK YOU FOR WATCHING Non-specific army wear to maintian the universal potential of the text and situation. Army wear provides visual separation from the oppressed.
Oppressed characters wore something like would be worn by ‘mountain people’.


Atmosphere created by the door when it is accessed from the outside
Distinguishing feature for officers and army personnel entrances.


Minimal use to emphasise silences. If we took this piece touring to different schools, it might not be as readily available.


Adaptable and easy to manoeuvre but still powerful.
Creation of shadows on the back. COSTUME SOUND USE OF TECHNOLOGY LIGHTING Oppressive behaviour towards the Kurds from the Turks.
(Pinter letter, 1988. 'Times Literary Supplement')


Pinter denied this contextual link.
May have done this to maintain the universal potential of the play.

“This play is not about the Turks and the Kurds... throughout history, many languages
have been banned."
(Pinter letter, 1988. 'Times Literary Supplement') POTENTIAL MOTIVE DENIAL? 'MOUNTAIN LANGUAGE' Set in a prison and consists of four short acts. The underlying theme of the play is oppression and the forbidden language of the Mountain people.


Opression of language.
Sexual discrimination.


Abuse and cruel treatment.
Introduction of Mandarin and English as dominant languages.


Extreme levels of oppression ending in death.


The oppression appears to be lifted.
Language is completely lost. PRISON WALL VISITORS ROOM VOICES IN THE DARKNESS VISITORS ROOM THEATRE IN EDUCATION WORKSHOPS... JUSTIFICATION FOR
PERFORMATIVE CHOICES... MANDARIN AND ENGLISH Chinese and English are two dominant languages. USE OF TAPE ACROSS OLD WOMAN'S MOUTH VOICE OVERS MOUNTAIN LANGUAGE Harold Pinter was born on 10th October 1930 in Hackney, East London. He was the only child of lower middle class English parents of Jewish Eastern European ancestry. TOURING STRUCTURE drawing material from the processes we used to create our piece Communication Intimidation Silent forms of communication (using tape over the mouth)
Using other languages (differing formations of words etc.) Working with isolation of the victims
Blindfolding the victims Oppression of language through a visual image.
Represents the Elderly Woman’s internal thoughts that cannot be expressed due to the physical constriction of the tape. Our voice over's illustrated connections between the oppressed characters. The audience are let into private moments shared away from the oppressors, creating a deeper, emotional level. NOTION OF FOUND SPACE... We felt a greater connection to an atmosphere of
'found space'.
This was not our original intention.


Beeping noise when it is accessed from the outside.
Chose to incorporate this into our piece as a distinguishing feature for when officers and army personnel entered in order to enhance the prison – like atmosphere.

This creates conflict between the concept of 'found space' and artificial aesthetic choices.


We would be able to explore and emphasise the idea of 'found spaces'. THEATRE IN EDUCATION PROJECT JACK HYLTON ROOM
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