Anish Jethmalani is currently appearing on the Books on Vernon stage as Aston in The Caretaker by Harold Pinter. Jethamalani–who was last seen at Writers’ in 2005’s To the Green Fields Beyond–chatted with us about Pinter’s style, director Ron OJ Parson, and working at Writers’ Theatre.
What attracted you to this project?
Harold Pinter is perhaps one of the most revered and celebrated writers of our time and I think for most actors, the opportunity to have a go at his work is not only thrilling, but a great challenge. Also, I jumped at the chance to work with Writers’ Theatre again and to work with Ron OJ Parson on this piece. I think Ron’s vision and approach to The Caretaker was something fresh and exciting without really changing or updating the piece.
What was the process like of rehearsing The Caretaker?
We had a great time during this process. In addition to doing our own individual prep work on the play weeks before rehearsals started, we each came to rehearsals ready to just experiment, play, take risks and try different things. Ron really gave us the freedom to be as creative as possible and we worked hard as a team to find those moments that resonated for all of us and build upon that to bring our production to life. To also work in such an intimate space at the bookstore where the audience is literally right there with you on stage really forces you not to overplay and to be as honest, simple and true in the work you do.
Has Pinter presented any particular challenges?
Yes – we have all strived to stay as perfect as we can with regards to Pinter’s rhythm and text – his pauses being probably the most well known part of that rhythm that he establishes for actors. There is definitely so much going on in those pauses for each character that we have had to be as clear and specific with what was happening in between the lines. We also had to find that balance between both the humor and tension in the piece and worked quite a bit on this during the rehearsal process. There is also a certain level of ambiguity in Pinter’s work that we had to make sure we kept at the forefront of our character work. It’s really what makes his characters I think quite fascinating and engaging to watch. I think Pinter challenges both actors and his audience to come to their own conclusions on events that are unfolding in his plays. He doesn’t necessarily offer all the answers in his work and I think we had to work diligently on finding and maintaining that certain level of ambiguity with authenticity.
What do you enjoy about working at Writers’ Theatre?
I love that Writers’ Theatre stays true to their mission in valuing the artist and the text. The work here is always done extremely well and to be a part of that is a privilege. Writers’ definitely takes care of all of their artists with tremendous support. I’m grateful to be back here again.