Harold Pinter's political plays frequently take place during sociopolitical states of exception, during which foundational, constitutive juridico-legislative processes and protections are suspended precisely in order to safeguard their continuity and efficacy. Political and social theorist Giorgio Agamben, in State of Exception, argues that the paradoxical quality of states of exceptions is irreducible, unable to be resolved into a noncontradictory political theory. Similarly, in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, “Art, Truth and Politics,” Pinter evinces a paradoxical, or at least ambivalent, orientation to theater: On the one hand, the search for truth in art must forever continue; on the other hand, it is never achievable; only the real-world truths of the politically engaged citizen offer the certainties necessary for social and political resistance. By laying out such a position, Pinter appears to relegate theater itself to a state of exception, and impossible, paradoxical representational space in which what is said is always immediately consumed and negated by the representational practices of live theater. This exceptional state of theater itself is thematized in the storytelling and self-fashioning central to such plays as Party Time, The New World Order, One for the Road, and No Man's Land.

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