“Work­ing with Harold is a for­mi­da­ble task, and it had its own lim­i­ta­tions. I worked with him for this one-off gig. He was very pre­cise. And that tute­lage was a unique thing.”

Pasatiempo - - IN OTHER WORDS -

Sands does not play the char­ac­ter of Pin­ter. “It’s not me dra­ma­tiz­ing Harold, no, that would be too for­mi­da­ble a task. This is me as me, pre­sent­ing my cel­e­bra­tion of Harold Pin­ter. What I do is, I tell the story of the life and work of Harold Pin­ter. Mostly through his own words, but also through the words of oth­ers. It’s his poetry, di­aries, let­ters, in­ter­views, quo­ta­tions — and very de­lib­er­ately, none of his drama. But it hangs to­gether as what I would call a lit­er­ary por­trait. Be­cause the au­thor of the plays is an oblique fig­ure, it would be very hard to cre­ate a por­trait of the play­wright from reading his plays. But in his di­rect speech writ­ings, he re­veals a por­trait of ex­tra­or­di­nary hu­man­ity, and power. And hu­mor. And that’s what I pre­sent.”

The ac­tor does, how­ever, find him­self slip­ping into the Pin­ter per­sona from time to time as he reads the great man’s words. “He does have a habit of show­ing up, of hov­er­ing around. I’ve never done a show when I haven’t felt his pres­ence, in a very tan­gi­ble way. In some places he has a habit of com­pelling me to chan­nel him. It’s quite clear when I’m in­hab­it­ing Harold — or when Harold is in­hab­it­ing me — and when it’s me as me. It makes for an in­ter­est­ing two-han­der!”

The man who Ju­lian Sands got to know so well over those last few years of Pin­ter’s life was a larger-than-life char­ac­ter, some­one who “had a real aura of au­thor­ity and in­tel­li­gence about him. If Harold came into a room, ev­ery­one was con­scious that he was there. He was like a great bird of prey, cir­cling on the pic­ture frame and gazing at the room. He had a re­mark­able pres­ence, which he used as an ac­tor him­self — he trained as an ac­tor and worked as an ac­tor through­out his life, some­times in his own ma­te­rial but of­ten in other peo­ple’s. What I wasn’t aware of, though, be­fore reading the ma­te­rial, par­tic­u­larly the poetry, is an in­cred­i­ble ten­der­ness, a sort of ro­man­tic side, a side of tremen­dously touch­ing and lov­ing feel­ing. And that’s un­de­ni­ably ap­par­ent if you read, or if you hear me re­cite, his ma­te­rial. He’s on a level of poetry with Shake­speare, Shel­ley, Keats — he achieves his in­ten­tions with the same level of prow­ess as those fel­lows. He wasn’t just writ­ing poetry as a hobby, he was a poet be­fore he was a play­wright.”

That long-ago lun­cheon where Sands and Pin­ter con­nected still re­ver­ber­ates through Sands’ life, and on the stage where he presents this por­trait. “I’d been aware of him all my pro­fes­sional life. I’d stud­ied his plays in high school, when he was a sort of über-fig­ure for me. So it was extraordinarily prov­i­den­tial, that lunch. But look­ing back, hav­ing been per­form­ing this piece, on and off, since we first met, there was a kind of in­evitabil­ity about it.”

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