Regarding the unseen : reading the offstage in Harold Pinter's early plays
Goh, Qi Wei
Date of Issue2017
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
As a result of its close ties with theatre, drama has often been associated with sight and this has, understandably, led to readers paying more attention to the ‘seen’, while inadvertently pushing the ‘unseen’ into the background. However, the ‘unseen’ parts of a play (i.e. the offstage) are equally, if not more, important than the ‘seen’ in driving the action of a drama. Therefore, this paper plans to examine the offstage, by rereading Harold Pinter’s first four plays, The Room (1957), The Birthday Party (1957), The Dumb Waiter (1957) and A Slight Ache (1958) and attempt, firstly, to argue for the importance of the offstage in drama and, secondly, to challenge the usual claims of ‘menace’ associated with the outside/offstage of Pinter’s early plays. Ultimately, I hope to suggest that the offstage in Pinter’s drama actually possesses the potential to help characters free themselves from the confines of the room/stage which they are trapped in.