The inaugural conference of Harold Pinter: Histories and Legacies

Staging Pinter: Networks, Collaborators, Legacies

The inaugural conference of Harold Pinter: Histories and Legacies

 A two-day international conference at the University of Birmingham, UK

April 6-7 2018

Keynote Speaker: Steve Waters, playwright

Further speakers and guests to be announced

Call for Papers

The life and works of Harold Pinter, a pivotal figure in late twentieth-century British theatre, have been widely discussed, debated, and celebrated internationally. This engagement with Pinter has also been reflected in a worldwide ‘Pinter Industry’ in scholarship. In contrast to the focus of much critical work directly on Pinter’s theatrical outputs, ‘Staging Pinter: Networks, Collaborators, Legacies’ invites scholars and practitioners from a range of disciplines to explore a broader series of networks that Pinter produced and engaged with, both as an artist and as a citizen. How do these networks serve to offer us insight into his activity and influence while alive, and how do they continue to reverberate to define his legacy?

‘Networks’ can be understood as an exchange of ideas or practices, or as a system of interconnected people, places, or works. Over five decades, Pinter’s work has traversed various forms and genres across theatre, film, television and radio drama, poetry, prose and political activism. Pinter’s work as an actor and director has also intersected with the work of other writers and artists across a series of venues and within different forms of media. What does an emphasis on the circulation of Pinter’s theatrical work reveal about key productions or texts? How can we better understand Pinter’s practice(s) through the networks of collaboration he established during his lifetime? By tracing the documentation and dissemination of Pinter’s life and work across archival, digital, scholarly, and performance networks, what new perspectives become possible?

This conference is the first in a series of academic and public events in connection with the Harold Pinter: Histories and Legacies project. As such, we anticipate publishing either an edited collection or special issue based on the submissions to this conference. As well as work focused specifically on Pinter, we would welcome submissions exploring the work of other playwrights and theatre makers who may have been influenced by Pinter’s work and encourage submissions from scholars at all stages of their careers.

While this conference focuses primarily on Pinter’s work for the stage and his theatrical legacy, there will be further opportunities to explore Pinter’s work specifically for television, film, and radio at the University of Reading in September in 2018 and later at the University of Leeds in 2019 to mark the conclusion of the project. We therefore look forward to welcoming scholars and practitioners to be a part of an ongoing, international conversation during the course of this project (please see the project description below for more details).

 Possible Topics

Drawing on the project’s central research questions and objectives concerning patterns across productions of Pinter’s works, we invite 20 minute papers on all aspects of Pinter’s works for the stage, with an emphasis on the various figures, sites, and institutions involved in their production. Possible topics might include (but are not limited to):

  • Spatial Networks such as key performance sites (the Royal Shakespeare Company or the National Theatre, for example) that Pinter’s work has occupied; touring practices or specific productions on tour
  • Collaborations with other writers, directors, and performers across Pinter’s career
  • Institutional Legacies exploring this impact of Pinter’s work on specific theatres, organisations, theatrical companies, or curriculum(s)
  • Global Networks such as international stagings, reception, or adaptation of Pinter’s work(s); Pinter in translation
  • Media Networks exploring how Pinter’s theatrical work interconnects with his work across film, television, and radio; the role of the media in the consolidation and dissemination of Pinter’s theatrical work and reputation
  • Political Networks and Social Activism exploring instances across Pinter’s career from the political drama of the 1950s and 1960s to contemporary politics
  • Digital/Archival Networks addressing the archiving and documentation of Pinter’s life and work; the online presence and dissemination of Pinter as a cultural figure
  • Stylistic and Aesthetic Legacies in the work of other theatre makers or in theatrical contexts

Deadline for Abstracts: Friday 24th November 2017

Please send abstracts of no more than 200 words and a brief biography to both Professor Graham Saunders ( and Dr Catriona Fallow (

The Harold Pinter: Histories and Legacies Project

 Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Harold Pinter: Histories and Legacies is led by Dr Mark Taylor-Batty from the School of English at the University of Leeds, with co-investigators Professor Jonathan Bignell (Reading) and Professor Graham Saunders (Birmingham). The project explores what performance aesthetics have been attached to Pinter’s work over the course of his career and what impact his work has had on the broader palette of British performance (stage and screen) history since the late 1950s.

A key outcome of the project will be the construction of a comprehensive, publically accessible database of professional UK productions (and broadcasts and film releases), which will be central to both mapping histories and scrutinising possible patterns across productions.

By generating new narratives of Pinter’s significance, which may validate or challenge those that sustain current scholarship or traditional scholarly perspectives, the project will offer a focus for developments in Pinter scholarship, and more broadly in theatre studies.

To learn more about the project, visit:


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