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Mountain Language

Mountain Language
Your Price: $14.95 CDN
Author: Harold Pinter
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service (cover may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 15
Pub. Date: 1988
ISBN-10: 082220777X
ISBN-13: 9780822207771
Cast Size: 2 female, 5 male

About the Play:

Mountain Language is a one-act drama by Nobel prize-winner Harold Pinter. A brief but truly powerful study of authoritarian repression by one of the master playwrights of the English-speaking theatre. Successfully produced in both London and New York, Mountain Language evokes, in four short scenes, a shocking awareness of the terror, brutality and inhumanity which can occur when the rights of the individual have been usurped by an all-powerful and oppressive state.

Mountain Language deals with prison life and the injustices suffered by the prisoners. Furthering the theme of political consciousness expressed so forcefully and eloquently in his earlier play One for the Road, the play takes place in an unspecified country where individual liberties have been forfeited to the state. Set in an unknown prison where the inmates are forbidden to speak their own language, Mountain Language is comprised of four terse, arresting scenes which make masterful use of nuance and subtle understatement (with sudden bursts of violence) to create an overwhelming sense of terror and shocking futility. In one scene uniformed officers taunt and belittle the women who have come to visit their men, who are political prisoners; in another a mother and son are allowed to speak only in "the language of the capital," which they do not know; in the third scene a young woman accidentally sees a guard holding a limp, tortured man whom she knows to be her husband; and, in the final scene the old woman reunited with her bloody, trembling son and, though told she may now speak, she has been silenced so long that she cannot, or will not, do so. Quintessentially Pinteresque in its skillful use of pregnant pauses, resonant images and nightmarish utterances, Mountain Language is both enthralling theatre and a stirring reminder of what can happen when the power of the state becomes all-encompassing and the rights of the individual are forfeited, whether through neglect or weakness of will.

Mountain Language premiered in 1988 at the National Theatre in London. The play received its US premier in 1989 at the Classic Stage Company in New York City. The play has been performed in regional, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 2 female, 5 male

What people say:

"Mountain Language is an atom bomb: brief, brutal and utterly devastating." — BackStage

"effortlessly encapsulates the world. ... If to want, to have, to use or abuse power over others is the essence of politics, then Pinter has been writing political plays since day one. No one but he could have written this one. … This is a harsh, cruel, magisterial play, painful but compassionate." — Sunday Times (London)

"What is astonishing is how much Pinter packs into a short space. He deals with the use of language as a repressive instrument, the arbitrary cruelty of military states which make up new rules as they go along, the brutish incompetence of totalitarian societies which shunt the wrong prisoners into the wrong place … Pinter also makes his points — like late Beckett — through a series of resonant images … [He] distills the daily barbarism of military societies with painterly precision. A masterly portrait of compressed suffering." — The Guardian (London)

"A play of few words which adds up to an eloquent indictment of the banning of any human utterance … Milan Kundera has written that the final barbarity of a totalitarian regime is that, by making its victims the butts of grim practical jokes, it even tries to deprive them of the tragic dignity which their suffering merits. In a succession of short, jabbing scenes, Pinter introduces us to such a world." — The Independent (London)

"With exquisite economy and controlled rage, the author has fashioned a pulverizing drama of man's inhumanity that subtly but surely conveys the immemorial lesson that the brutalizing of victims also brutalizes the aggressors and the uncaring." — Variety

About the Playwright:

Harold Pinter (1930-2008) was an English playwright, screenwriter, actor, theatre director, poet, and Nobel laureate. He wrote 29 plays including The Birthday Party, The Caretaker, The Homecoming, and Betrayal, 15 dramatic sketches, 21 screenplays, as well as books of poetry and fiction, and directed 27 theatre productions. He continued to act under his own name, on stage and screen. His genius was recognized within his lifetime as a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005 (the highest honour available to any writer in the world), the Companion of Honour for services to Literature, the Legion D'Honneur, the European Theatre Prize, the Laurence Olivier Award and the Moliere D'Honneur for lifetime achievement. In 1999 he was made a Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature, in addition to 18 other honorary degrees.

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