What sound was that? I turn away, into the shaking room. What was that sound that came in on the dark? What is this maze of life it leaves us in? What is this stance we take, to turn away and then turn back? What did we hear? It was the breath we took when we first met. Listen. It is here.


With personal anecdotes and reflections drawn from their work together, British actor Julian Sands combines Harold Pinter's poems and prose to create a fresh and intimate insight into the Nobel laureate’s literary legacy.

Harold Pinter was a director, actor and one of the most influential modern British dramatists, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005. His celebrated, dark-comic classic The Birthday Party is playing January 24 – April 28, 2013 in the Upstairs Theatre, a mysterious yet comic riff on the absurd terrors of the everyday.

Sands, best known for the films A Room With a View and The Killing Fields, was a longtime friend of the playwright. A few years before his death, Pinter requested that Sands fill in for him at a poetry reading when he was too ill to go on. The experience ultimately inspired this production, which debuted in 2011 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in homage to Pinter, who died in 2008. The production toured through Britain and was presented in San Francisco, Los Angeles and to sold-out audiences in New York City, with Backstage calling it "mandatory viewing for devotees of the actor and certainly 'the defining dramatist of the 20th century'...this one-man show fondly reveals an engaging and at times vulnerable side of the famously prickly playwright."

Cast & Artists

The Artists

The Cast


"Julian Sands is on occasion about as naked as an actor can be...when he reads Pinter’s poems, you feel the playwright’s presence. This modest, affecting show embodies the notion of the actor as a transparent vessel through which we see the thoughts and feelings of others."
The New York Times

"Performing the valuable service of bringing this marvelous, little-known poetry to striking life, the beautifully performed evening is a revelation."
New York Post

"Sands is engaging and open. It's great to hear him orate Pinter's work in his plummy accent, coaxing out the sly, dark humor that's just below the surface."
Entertainment Weekly

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Steppenwolf does not offer advisories about subject matter, as sensitivities vary from person to person. If you have any questions about content, age-appropriateness or stage effects (such as strobe lights or theatrical fog) that might have a bearing on patron comfort, please contact the box office at 312-335-1650.

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