Winter 2022: Three Studies in Cruelty -- Harold Pinter, Mountain Language; Samuel Beckett, What Where, Catastrophe
Makeup and getting dressed
Three Studies in Cruelty
Three Studies in Cruelty is the motto we have chosen for these plays, which could be called “political” in the widest sense of the word, insofar as they deal with intimidation and the exercise of absolute and arbitrary control over human beings.
The four short scenes of Harald Pinter‘s play Mountain Language are set in an unspecified country, a military dictatorship, in which the language spoken by the people who live in the mountains is “forbidden”, where prisoners are routinely tortured, and their wives and mothers, who are desperately trying to visit them in prison, are insulted and harassed by soldiers and guards.
In contrast to Pinter’s “realistic” mode, Beckett’s two short one-act plays What Where and Catastrophe (which comes with the dedication “For Vaclav Havel”) are abstract, stylized dramatic parables, in which ruthless, autocratic impresario figures exert absolute control over their fellow creatures, demanding their unconditional and unquestioning obedience. What Where and Catastrophe are not only Studies in Cruelty, but also Studies in Obedience.