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Peter Stephen Paul Brook CH, CBE (born 21 March 1925) is a Britishmarker theatre and film director and innovator.

Biography

Life

Brook was born in Chiswickmarker, west Londonmarker, the second son of Simon and Ida Brook, and educated at Westminster Schoolmarker, Gresham's Schoolmarker, Holtmarker, and Magdalen Collegemarker, Oxfordmarker.

While at Gresham's he directed The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, and while at Oxford The Infernal Machine. In 1945–1946, he worked at the Birmingham Repertory Theatremarker on productions of Man and Superman, King John, and The Lady from the Sea. In 1946, his first London production was Vicious Circle. In 1947, he went to Stratford-upon-Avonmarker as assistant director on Romeo and Juliet and Love's Labour's Lost. From 1947 to 1950, he was Director of Productions at the Royal Opera Housemarker, Covent Gardenmarker. A proliferation of stage and screen work as producer and director followed.

In 1951, Brook married the actress Natasha Parry and together they have one son and one daughter.

In 1970, with Micheline Rozan, Brook founded the International Centre for Theatre Research, a multinational company of actors, dancers, musicians and others which travelled widely in the Middle East and Africa in the early 1970s. It is now based in Parismarker at the Bouffes du Nord theatremarker. In 2008 he made the decision to resign as artistic director of Bouffes du Nord, handing over to Olivier Mantei and Olivier Poubelle in 2011.

Influences

His work is inspired by the theories of experimental theatre of Jerzy Grotowski, Bertolt Brecht, Meyerhold, G. I. Gurdjieff and the works of Edward Gordon Craig and Stuart Davis.

Brook was influenced by the work of Antonin Artaud and his ideas for his well-named Theatre of Cruelty. His major influence however was Joan Littlewood. He said of her that she was "the most galvanising director in mid-20th century Britain".

In England, Peter Brook and Charles Marowitz undertook The Theatre of Cruelty Season (1964) at the Royal Shakespeare Company, aiming to explore ways in which Artaud's ideas could be used to find new forms of expression and retrain the performer. The result was a showing of 'works in progress' made up of improvisations and sketches, one of which was the premier of Artaud's The Spurt of Blood.
Lee Jamieson, Antonin Artaud: From Theory to Practice, Greenwich Exchange, 2007


The Empty Space

Peter Brook's book The Empty Space was a highly influential piece of work. It consists of 4 parts, each describing a version of the notion and nature of theatre. Each section is an adaptation of a speech he gave at various Universities. For this reason this book has an accessible, fluid tone.

The opening couple of sentences are extremely widely quoted:

I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all I need for an act of theatre to be engaged

This quote has become something of a mantra for practitioners of site-specific theatre, and also for those working with devising.

The Empty Space strips theatre down to the bare bones of what performance is, rejecting the necessity for traditional theatre spaces, elements or forms in themselves, and placed a huge emphasis on the direct relationship between actor and audience. These ideas are shared with Jerzy Grotowski.

The Mahabharata

In the mid 1970s, Brook, with writer Jean-Claude Carrière, began work on adapting the Indian epic poem the Mahābhārata into a stage play which was first performed in 1985 and then later into a televised mini series. The production using an international cast caused heated intercultural debate. Negative criticism came from Indian scholar Pradip Bhattacharya who felt that Brook's interpretation "was not a portrayal of a titanic clash between the forces of good and evil, which is the stuff of the epic... [but] the story of the warring progeny of some rustic landlord".

Tierno Bokar

In 2005 Brook directed Tierno Bokar, based on the life of the Malian sufi of the same name. The play was adapted for the stage by Marie-Helene Estienne from a book by Amadou Hampate Ba (translated into English under A Spirit of Tolerance: The Inspiring Life of Tierno Bokar). The book and play detail Bokar's life and message of religious tolerance. Columbia University produced 44 related events, lectures, and workshops that were attended by over 3,200 people throughout the run of Tierno Bokar. Panel discussions focused on topics of religious tolerance and Muslim tradition in West Africa.

Work

Major productions for the RSC



Other major productions



Filmography



Awards



Honours



Bibliography



References

  1. Chambers, Colin The Continuum Companion To Twentieth Century Theatre (Continuum, 2002, ISBN 0-8264-4959-X) p. 384
  2. }
  3. Columbia University, "Record of Events"
  • Peter Brook, Threads of Time (1998)
  • Lee Jamieson, Antonin Artaud: From Theory to Practice (Greenwich Exchange: London, 2007) Contains practical exercises on Artaud drawn from Brook's Theatre of Cruelty Season at the RSC. ISBN 978-1-871551-98-3
  • John Heilpern, Conference of the Birds: The Story of Peter Brook in Africa, Faber Book Services, 1977, ISBN 0571103723
  • Dale Moffitt, Between Two Silences: Talking with Peter Brook (1999)
  • Biographies by J. C. Trewin (1971) and A. Hunt and G. Reeves (1995) and Michael Kustow (2005)
  • Andrew Todd and Jean-Guy Lecat, The Open Circle: Peter Brook's Theatre Environments (2003)
  • Ouriel Zohar, Meetings with Peter Brook, Zohar, Tel-Avivmarker 176 p. (1990) (He).


External links




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