Antonia Fraser was at The Harold Pinter Theatre today (Monday 24 October) to toast the London venue named after her late husband, the distinguished playwright, screen writer, director, political activist and actor, Harold Pinter.
To celebrate the occasion, Antonia was joined by the Ambassador Theatre Group's Joint Chief Executive, Rosemary Squire, novelist and playwright, Ariel Dorfman (whose explosive moral thriller, Death and the Maiden, is currently playing at the venue) and the star of Death and the Maiden, Thandie Newton.
The Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd (ATG) revealed last month, that the former Comedy Theatre would be re-named The Harold Pinter Theatre.
The theatre, owned by ATG since 2000, was built by J. H. Addison and originally opened in 1881 as the Royal Comedy Theatre. The Theatre was designed by the well known theatre architect Thomas Verity.
The London venue has been the West End home to no less than 7 Pinter productions over the last 21years including The Homecoming, No Man's Land, Moonlight, The Hothouse, The Caretaker with Michael Gambon (one of the theatre's biggest box office successes), The Lover The Collection starring Gina McKee (directed by Jamie Lloyd and produced by Howard Panter for ATG) and most recently, a sell-out run of Ian Rickson's production of Pinter's Betrayal starring Kristin Scott Thomas and produced by Sonia Friedman.
Pinter also directed Otherwise Engaged by Simon Gray, Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose, The Old Masters by Simon Gray and another hugely successful run of The Caretaker at the theatre.
Harold Pinter was married to Antonia Fraser, with whom he lived from 1975 until his death in 2008. She said, "Harold would have been so pleased by this honour and I am very moved at the news."
The first show to play at The Harold Pinter Theatre is Death and The Maiden by Ariel Dorfman, starring Thandie Newton and directed by Jeremy Herrin.
Ariel Dorfman, Novelist and Playwright, said: "That it should precisely be Death and the Maiden which begins its run in the building just after it has been christened with the name of my dear friend Harold Pinter, fills me with joy and also seems extraordinarily appropriate. That play is dedicated, after all, to Pinter. He was its godfather and guide when it first opened twenty years ago and my mentor for most of my writing life. How wondrous that the very play that owed its first life to Pinter, will now be reborn inside a theatre that bears its name!"
Born in 1930 in East London Harold Pinter wrote 32 plays, 22 screenplays and directed 36 theatre productions. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, and was awarded the Companion of Honour in 2002. His many awards include the Laurence Olivier Award and the Moliere D'Honneur for Lifetime Achievement, the European Theatre Award and the Legion d'Honneur. In October 2006, Pinter performed Samuel Beckett's monologue Krapp's Last Tape at The Royal Court Theatre, directed by Ian Rickson.