The Collection

Written bY HAROLD PINTER | Directed by Dan Shanahan

February 17 -March 12, 2017
At the Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle
612 Fillmore Avenue, Buffalo NY 14212

Director’s Note

The second project I ever directed for the stage was Harold Pinter’s The Room. Other Pinter projects I directed were The Dwarfs, One for the Road, Family Voices and a small sketch titled Night. As a director I have always looked to Pinter to help me better understand stage space, tension, and dramatic construct. More than perhaps any playwright, Pinter articulates the rhythm of silence and ambiguity, highlighted by a precise control of language. In Pinter’s world, characters control language because it allows them to control and to design their reality.

The Collection takes place in an undisclosed part of England near Leeds. I decided to view Leeds as a state of being rather than a geographical location in the county of Yorkshire, England. Leeds is a space where these characters have found themselves- it is a space where the dynamics of race, language, and power play out in front of a backdrop of shifting truths and constructed and then re-constructed realities. How does an individual maintain posture, direction and relationships when there are no mutually agreed-upon truths? As trust erodes, anxiety washes in to fill the cracks.

As in the landscape of Alfred Hitchcock, the characters in this piece move from a world based on truth to a world based on the unknown. In this unsettled realm, characters attempt to discover clues so as to re-construct their worldview. Bits of truth are precious, and those who hold onto those truths maintain power. The “truth” wielding character wishes to disrupt, keeping everyone else vulnerable, unsure, and in time, questioning their own sense of self.  As the self breaks down there is no more private space. The truth holder is now everywhere.

When directing previous Pinter works I gave special care to having the American born actor take on the British accent in order to best highlight the language. In 2017 this did not seem important to me. I wanted actors to use their own strength of language and apply it to Pinter’s words. Each actor using language as a tool, shifting to brutishness, authenticity, put-upon manners, and storytelling. The goal is always to leave the other guessing- to feel they are losing control and in need of help and protection that can only be given by the person claiming to possess the truth.

– Dan Shanahan, Director