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Old Times

Written by Harold Pinter
Directed by Susannah Martin

Photos by Greg Crane

Presented by TheatreFIRST
April 1 – 25, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE “A classic Harold Pinter drama… gets a smartly orchestrated revival from director Susannah Martin and a first-rate cast.” – Robert Hurwitt

BERKELEY DAILY PLANET “Susannah Martin—and the designers—do well by Old Times, balancing movement and stasis, the sally and the pose, finding a stylization that’s not the empty, guilty inactivity too many productions of Pinter bottom out in. She’s done well by TheatreFIRST, as have her actors…” – Ken Bullock

SF APPEAL.COM “TheatreFIRST’s production of Old Times…was the sort of blind date you take home and marry a week later…Susannah Martin’s direction kept the show taught, unflinching, and on the mark. See this show if you can because it’s not often you find a keeper.” – Richard Ciccarone

Director’s Note
During the rehearsal process, the actors and I tried to unlock a puzzle that yielded the following clues:

  • Old Times takes place in a converted farmhouse in the English countryside; it is autumn; it is night.
  • Deeley and Kate are married and have been for approximately 20 years.
  • Kate once lived with a woman named Anna, approximately 20 years ago.
  • Anna is coming over for dinner.
  • Throughout the evening, certain memories are repeated.
  • Each time the memories are repeated, they change – slightly.

Did these memories occur? Did these people really know each other? Who’s telling the truth? What really happened? Whatever happened, one thing is clear: in Old Times, memories are weapons.

The past is subjective. Once a moment passes, our perception of it is immediately distorted by the tricky games our memory plays with it. We use memory all the time: to make ourselves look good, to feel better, to get what we want, and to justify the difficult life choices we must make about who we are versus who we were or who we wanted to be. In any story, the truth always lies somewhere in the middle – what “really happened” can never be fully known. We can only deal, in the present, with the consequences of choices we made long ago that we may no longer remember or understand.

You can try to decipher the puzzle, or you can simply let the memories wash over you as you watch these 3 people battle over ownership of the past and the present. Regardless, enjoy Pinter’s use of repetition of words, phrases, images, and memories. Enjoy discovering the differences in all iterations of the memory and deciphering who’s tactically using the past to more effectively lay claim to the present. Know this: whatever version of “what happened” you come away with, it is valid. As Pinter himself said about this play: “I’ll tell you one thing about Old Times. It happens. It all happens.”

Anna / Zehra Berkman
Deeley / L. Peter Callender*
Kate / Julia McNeal*

*Member of AEA

Artistic Director Emeritus / Clive Chafer
Artistic Director / Michael Storm
Costume Design / Rebecca Redmond
Lighting Design / Dale Altvater
Properties Design / Jacqueline Scott
Set Design / Nina Ball
Sound Design / Chris Houston
Stage Managers / Leah McKibbin + Jennifer Stukey