THE DWARFS, by Harold Pinter

Oonagh Duncan (Talk Sixty To Me) interviews Tim Welham of

The Dwarfs

by Harold Pinter

Directed by Jennifer Tarver
Presented by Infectious Theatre Company
Featuring Matthew Dionne, Ian McRoberts, Tim Welham

Harold Pinter’s one-act adaptation of his first novel, The Dwarfs tracks the relationship between three young men growing up in Hackney, London, in the 1940s. Pinter’s most autobiographical work, it examines a schism in the boys’ friendship when betrayal is at hand.

Q: Why did you want to do the Dwarfs?

It is a play full of wonderfully tense silences and rich subtext that allows both the actors and audience to explore the inner workings of each moment and relationship. The production was very well received during its first incarnation, and we wanted to bring it to a wider audience at the SummerWorks Festival.

Q: How is 1940’s era London similar (and different) to Toronto today?

Similar in that both London and contemporary Toronto are big, sometimes dirty and packed full of diverse neighbourhoods. They both have wide economic divides and are cities where artists, businessmen and the mentally ill live together in a weird harmony … it’s different in that we now have the Internet, the CN tower, a lot of Thai restaurants and more snow.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge with the show so far?

Harold Pinter’s unique style, without a doubt. One of Pinter’s distinctive traits is his use of the “pause”. (aka. that legendary Pinter Pause.) Each specifically placed pause or silence is always more important then the lines themselves – which is contrary to traditional theatre based on speech and dialogue. So, mastering the technique has been the biggest challenge thus far.

Q: Why should everyone know Pinter’s work?

Because it’s theatre at its finest! He is a living legend and has created some of the most memorable theatre to date. He crafts each moment with such skill that simply dropping a fork has the violent, dramatic impact of a punch to the jaw. He’s an outstanding playwright and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005.

Harold Pinter

Harold Pinter

Q: How is this Pinter’s most autobiographical play?

The characters and events of the play are based upon Pinter’s own life growing up in London, England. He wrote the original story over a few days in his early 20’s: a wonderfully complex work that was his first, and only, full-length novel. He later adapted it into a radio play, and from there into a full theatrical production. All three of the characters in the play are based upon Pinter’s lifelong friends, and the character of Mark is fashioned after Harold Pinter himself.

Q: What is the best thing about working with Jennifer Tarver?

The best thing? But there are so many! Jennifer is an astoundingly inclusive and intelligent director with immense faith in the creative process. She also has tremendous patience and equally tremendous respect for everyone involved in the production. The confidence we have in her decisions makes the creative process bubble and facilitates amazing rehearsals. She is truly a gem to work with!

Jennifer Tarver

Q: What is the most dwarf-y aspect of this play?

Len’s character sees little dwarfs running around everywhere! Dwarfs wearing yellow raincoats and big sunglasses, eating bacon rinds, rotten cabbage and drinking fruit juice. It’s actually a curiously disturbing sight.

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