Monday 23 September 2013

Worksheet: Film Screening - Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party

Worksheet: Film Screening 

Film Screening: ‘The Birthday Party - a British drama film (1968)- directed by 
William Friedkin (The Birthday Party) -  based on an unpublished screenplay by 2005 Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter, which he adapted from his own play The Birthday Party (Pinter, The Birthday Party).

Online Quiz on 'The Birthday Party'

Pre-Viewing Tasks:

  • ·         Harold Pinter – the man and his works (Pinter, The Birthday Party)
  • ·         Comedy of Menace: Whose plays are known so? Who termed it? What are its peculiar characteristics? How is it different from Absurd Theatre?
  • ·         Explain ‘Pinteresque’ – Pinter pause and use of ‘Silence’ in the play: a particular atmosphere and environment in drama.
  • ·         ‘The Birthday Party’ – an allegory of ‘artist in exile and other interpretations
  • ·         ‘The Birthday Party’ as a Political Play with reference to Harold Pinter’s Noble Speech: ‘Art, Truth & Politics[1]’. (Pinter, Art, Truth & Politics: Excerpts from the 2005 Nobel Lecture)

While – Viewing Tasks:

  • ·         Harriet Deer and Irving Deer’s article[2] on Pinter's "The Birthday Party": The Film and the Play. (Deer and Deer)
  • ·         A comparison of the film and play versions of ‘The Birthday Party’ affords us a rare opportunity to gain insight into how a reconception of a play into film may affect the dramatic experience it communicates. Mark the way Pinter treats the texture of the play.
  • ·         Observe how Pinter gives us the texture-the sounds and sights of a world without structure, which is the heart and soul of the play also.
  • ·         How many times the ‘knocking at the door’ happens in the play? Is it creating menacing effect while viewing the movie?
  • ·         How are ‘silences’ and ‘pauses’ used in the movie to give effect of lurking danger – how it helps in building the texture of comedy of menace.
  • ·         Comment upon the use of things like mirror, toy drum, newspapers, breakfast, chairs, window-hatch etc in the movie. What sort of symbolic reading can you give to these objects?
  • ·         How effective are scenes like ‘Interrogation scene’ (Act 1), ‘Birthday Party scene’ (Act 2) and ‘Faltering Goldberg & Petey’s timid resistance scene’ (Act 3) captured in the movie?
  • Post-Viewing Tasks:
  • ·         Why are two scenes of Lulu omitted from the movie?
  • ·         Is movie successful in giving us the effect of menace? Where you able to feel it while reading the text?
  • ·         Do you feel the effect of lurking danger while viewing the movie? Where you able to feel the same while reading the text
  • What do you read in 'newspaper' in the movie? Petey is reading newspaper to Meg, it torn into pieces by McCain, pieces are hidden by Petey in last scene.
  • Camera is positioned over the head of McCain when he is playing Blind Man's Buff and is positioned at the top with a view of room like a cage (trap) when Stanley is playing it. What interpretations can you give to these positioning of camera? 
  • "Pinter restored theater to its basic elements: an enclosed space and unpredictable dialogue, where people are at the mercy of one another and pretense crumbles." (Pinter, Art, Truth & Politics: Excerpts from the 2005 Nobel Lecture). Does this happen in the movie?
  • ·         How does viewing movie help in better understanding of the play ‘The Birthday Party’ with its typical characteristics (like painteresque, pause, silence, menace, lurking danger)?
  • ·         With which of the following observations you agree:

o   “It probably wasn't possible to make a satisfactory film of "The Birthday Party."
o    “It's impossible to imagine a better film of Pinter's play than this sensitive, disturbing version directed by William Friedkin”[3]. (Ebert)

  • ·        If you were director or screenplay writer, what sort of difference would you make in the making of movie?
  • ·         Who would be your choice of actors to play the role of characters?
  •      Do you see any similarities among Kafka's Joseph K. (in 'The Trial'), Orwell's Winston Smith (in 'Nineteen Eighty-Four') and Pinter's Victor (in 'One for the Road')?  

The famous interrogation scene from the movie 'The Birthday Party':

The film version of the play can be viewed here:

Want to listen amazing video-speech by Harold Pinter on the occasion of his being awarded Nobel Prize in 2005? 



Ebert, Roger. Movie Review: The Birthday Party. Ed. Roger Ebert. 23 Sept. 2013 <>.
Pinter, Harold. "Art, Truth & Politics: Excerpts from the 2005 Nobel Lecture." World Literature Today May-Jun 2006: 21-27.
—. The Birthday Party. New Delhi: Faber And Faber (penguin India), 1960, 1991.
The Birthday Party. By Harold Pinter. Dir. William Friedkin. Perf. Robert Shaw, et al. Prods. Max Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky. Continental Motion Pictures Corporation, 1968.
The film can be viewed online here:

[1] Art Truth &Politics: Excerpts from the 2005 Nobel Lecture Author(s): Harold Pinter. Source: World Literature Today, Vol. 80, No. 3 (May - Jun., 2006), pp. 21-27Published by: Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma. Stable URL:
[2] Pinter's "The Birthday Party": The Film and the Play. Author(s): Harriet Deer and Irving Deer. Source: South Atlantic Bulletin, Vol. 45, No. 2 (May, 1980), pp. 26-30Published by: South Atlantic Modern Language Association. Stable URL:

Sunday 1 September 2013

Story Writing Skill: English Language Writing Styles

This was the writing task given to the students to work in a group. They were asked to develop a story from the given image. It was famous Panchtantra fable - The Lion and the Rat. The story written was to be submitted in 'Comments' section below the blog post.
You will find three comments below the blog and all three have different writing style. It ranges from simplistic writing in matter-of-fact style to highly literary style of giving an effect of emotions to environment. I hope you will enjoy reading the difference in three styles of writing.

Visit this 'Blog 4 Teaching & Learning: Story Writing' to give your comments.
The content of this blog with comments are copy-pasted here:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Story Writing

Develop below given points into a story:
Write your story in the 'comments box'. To write in the 'coment box', clik on 'comments' at the end of this blog. Wait for the new page to open. Write in the given space and publish your comment. Use your google account for log in and identification. Publish one post named as 'Feedback on Story Writing'. Teacher's comments on your story will be published in the 'comments' of your blog.

Lion sleeping beneath a tree - rat came to play - climbed over the body of the lion - unknown to dangers, rat started playing with whiskers of the lion - lion wake up - angrily roared - rat trembled - lion ready to savour the rat - the rat begged to be pardoned - promised to help him in the hours of need - arrogance of lion smugged at rat - left alive - lion trapped by hunter in the net - roared for help - rat came with fellow friends - lion saved - friends forever.
The moral of the story is:
1. Friend in need in friend indeed.
2. Never trust mousy friends.
3. One never knows how one can be helpful to others.


  1. Once a lion was sleeping beneath a tree suddenly a rat came to play there. It climbed over the body of the lion. It was
    unknown to the dangers and it started playing with whiskers of the lion. Soon the lion woke up and roared angrily. The rat
    started trembling. The lion was ready to svour the rat. The rat begged the lion to pardon and promised to help him in the
    hours of need. At that time, the arogant lion smugged at the rat and left it alive. After some days the lion was trapped
    by hunter in the net. The lion began to roar for help. soon the rat came with fellow friends and saved the life of lion.
    And then they were friends forever.

    The moral of the story is:

    - One never knows how one can be helpful to others.
  2. Once upon a time,in a thick and dreadful forest,a lion was sleeping beneath the tree.Suddenly, a cheerful rat came to play for a while.
    There he saw a lion.Unknown to the dangers of lion,he climbed over the body of the lion and started playing with his whiskers.
    suddenly,the lion woke up and roared in anger.The rat was trembling in fear.Watching a trembling rat,the lion pitied him.The rat was ashamed
    for his deed and begged to be pardoned.He also promissed the lion that he will help him in his critacal times.
    The lion,in a mood of disgust smugged at rat ang left him alive.Then one day a group of hunters trapped the lion in a net.
    A poor lion roared for help.As soon as the rat came to know about the trapping of lion,he came with a few friends and cut the
    net.In this way he saved the lion.After that incident,they remained friends forever.

    1.A friend in need is a friend indeed.
    2.Never underestimate anyone in your life because you never know how one can be helpful to others.
    3.friendship is like water,no shape,no place,no
    taste.But it is still essential for living.
  3. The arrogant Lion was sleeping beneath a barren tree and his arrogance,too,was,adding even bitter barrenness to the nature by making it dismal and gloomy.In such atmospheare small,innocent infant Rat came in a jovial mood.Being in jovial mood infant started playing with the lion by climbing over the body of the lion without knowing the danger in it.In his pleasing mood the rat continued to play with whiskers of the lion.On such pleasing atmospheare where tree forgot to blossom,wind forgot to blow,they got their charm and sense of being a part of nature.But before such happened the lion woke up and roared angrily.Everything became barren as it was before.The rat got trembled.In his fury the lion was ready to savour the rat.The rat,innocent and small creature succumbed and begged to be pardoned.This small creature assured him to help in the hours of need in the best possible way he 'CAN'.
    But,how can a small creature help 'A KING'?.The king smugged the rat and gave him a chance to live.
    The flow of time never remains the same.After few days The king was trapped by hunters in the net.It was so called pity of him.He craved and roared for help.The rat,being a being of blood and flesh,without thinking anything came with fellow friends and anyhow managed to save the King by cutting the stings of tne net.Only afterwards the lion understood the value of friendship and became the friends forever.