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BLOW YOUR TRUMPETS ANGELS: Guest blog by Jeremy Goldstein

Henry Woolf and Jeremy Goldstein

Henry Woolf and Jeremy Goldstein Photo: Darren Black

This week I’m getting ready to take ‘Truth to Power Café’ to Yorkshire ahead of Australia and The Netherlands.  The idea for the show grew from a new play I’m working on called ‘Spider Love’  which is inspired by the political and philosophical beliefs of Harold Pinter and his Hackney Gang.  The Gang were a group of six friends who included my late father Mick Goldstein and Henry Woolf who at 87, is the last one alive. In 1955, Harold based his protagonist Len, on Mick in his one and only novel ‘The Dwarfs’, and Henry directed Harold’s first play ‘The Room’ just before ‘The Birthday Party’ opened in 1958.

Last week I went to see Ian Rickson’s West End revival of ‘The Birthday Party’   I was reminded the play is about power and occupation. Stanley is occupied by the external forces of Goldberg and McCann and we, the audience are left to ponder his plight. The last time I saw it was in the late 1980’s. I was 16 and sitting in Harold’s front room in Holland Park.    My hair was bleached blond and I was wearing my Frankie Goes to Hollywood leather jacket.  Harold had invited my father and I to lunch and we ended up watching the BBC TV production of ‘The Birthday Party’ with him in the role of Goldberg.  At the end of the video Mick burst into tears, and Harold roared with laughter as if the play was an in-joke between them.  Maybe they shared Stanley’s secret?  I will never know, but this was the only time I’d ever seen my father cry, and it was a profound and beautiful moment I will never forget.

Ele Pavlou

Ele Pavlou Photo: Sarah Hickson

Just before my father died in 2014 we were estranged and not speaking.  I tried to patch things up, but my letter arrived the day he died so he never got to read it.  I thought our relationship was forever broken, but as time went on, I discovered relationships with our loved ones, continue to evolve even in death, and these projects ‘Truth to Power Café’ and ‘Spider Love’ have become an attempt to reconcile my failed relationship with my father Mick.

In amongst Mick’s possessions I found a play he’d written in 1975.  I knew the play existed as I remember acting out all the parts as a 9-year-old-boy.  Forty years on, I was surprised to discover the play is in fact Mick’s personal response to his friendship with Harold, and what it was like for him to be written into ‘The Dwarfs’ as Len.  While I was reading the play, I visited the Harold Pinter Archive at the British Library, where for the first time I read a treasure trove of original letters between Harold, Henry and Mick. Many of the letters were written in the 1950’s, so it was through these letters, that I got to know my father as a young man for the first time.

In 2015, I arranged to meet Henry who started sending me original poetry in response to ’Spider Love’, the verse of which I’ve been able to incorporate into my own adaptation of my father’s text and which I now perform in ‘Truth to Power Café’.  I also created a part for Henry who appears in ‘Spider Love’ as himself.  We joke it’s the part he was born to play.  Last October, we staged a reading of ‘Spider Love’ to a packed British Library theatre.  The event included an on stage conversation between Pinter’s biographer Michael Bilington and Henry.  Thanks to Carl we’re able to show you the video for the first time.

When we eventually mount our production of ‘Spider Love’ we’ll be able to stage it in the shadow of the brave and courageous souls taking part in the ‘Truth to Power Café’.

This year alone we expect to engage at least a hundred participants.

Everyone taking part in the Café has five minutes to respond to this question before a live audience.

‘Who has power over you and what do you want to say to them?’

I talk about my father.

I wonder what Stanley would have said?

‘Truth to Power Café’ is a global platform for speaking truth to power in a theatrical context inspired by the philosophical beliefs of Harold Pinter and his Hackney Gang and presented in in association with Index on Censorship.  Director Jen Heyes. Photography Sarah Hickson.

Upcoming performances include Cast in Doncaster on 8th February and Theatre in the Mill in Bradford on 9th February.  This week the project launches in Australia for Festival 2018  the arts and cultural programme for Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, and in The Netherlands for Leeuwarden European Capital of Culture.

For more info and to sign up visit https://www.truthtopower.co.uk/

The Birthday Party is running at the Harold Pinter Theatre until 14th April