He has changed the look of the theater forever. Peter Brook, Legend of Staging, Died in Paris on Saturday 2 July. The theater and opera director, in constant research, the theorist of “empty space” that should awaken the public imagination, a follower of the exchange between cultures, the British was also a film director and wrote a dozen books.
For eight decades, in London and then in Paris at his Bofes du Nord Theater, he has given innovative interpretations of great classics like Shakespeare and explored world-wide mythology, such as the Hindu Mahabharata.
“I’ve never believed in a single truth. Be it mine or someone else’s. I believe that all schools, all theories can be effective in a certain place, at a certain time. But I believe that you can only live with emotion by identifying Absolutely, with a perspective. However, over time, as we change, as the world changes, so do our motives, and so does our vision. “He said at the Bouffes du Nord site.
Peter Brook was born in London on March 21, 1925, to a family of Lithuanian Jews who emigrated to the United Kingdom. As a child he knew he would do theater. Already at the age of 5, he is playing Hamlet A small doll was made for her by her father in the theater. He began his career as a director at a very young age: at the age of 23 he staged numerous Shakespeare lessons for the Royal Shakespeare Company and directed opera for the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. In London in the 1950s and 1960s, he staged Jean Cocto, Jean-Paul Sartre, Arthur Miller, Jean Janet and Bernard Shaw.
Since 1962, he has given up decorating and developed the concept of “space”: “I can take any empty space and call it a stage. Someone walks through that empty space when someone else sees it, and that’s enough to start acting out a play.”He wrote in his book VacancyPublished in English in 1968 and in French in 1977 (Edition du Seville).
He moved to Paris in 1970, created the International Center for Theatrical Research and took charge of the Boffes du Nord Theater, a small Italian theater that had been unused since 1952, which he revived. He relaunched it in 1974 Timon of Athens Shakespeare. The close-sized house provides a great closeness between the public and the actors. The walls will always be in the condition he found.
“You need very little to touch the imagination and when I was going to see huge and complex shows at a very young age, it was less believable to me than I could do with my small theater at home in a very simple way.”He made the announcement on February 8, 2021 in French Culture.
In addition to Chekhov or Shakespeare, Peter Brook is interested in world culture, which is universal about them. In 1979, he staged Bird conference, A collection of medieval poetry in Persian, published in the 12th century by the Sufi poet Farid al-Attar. And in 1985, he created his most ambitious work, which required ten years of preparation, the Mahabharata, a great Hindu epic, a nine-hour show that he created in Avignon and starred again in Bofes du Nord. He will adapt it for the movie in 1989.
“The Mahabharata is an epic, where there are heroes and gods, imaginary creatures. At the same time, the work is intimate. That is, the characters are weak, full of conflict, completely human.”Says Peter Brooke. For this show, like others, he has staged actors from all over the world: he has brought together, among others, British Bruce Myers, French Maurice Benichou, powerful Malian great actor Sotigui Kawate, Indian Mallika Sarabhai, Italian Vittorio Mezogiorno. …
Because the exchange between cultures is essential for him. In 1979 in Avignon, where he presented Bird conferenceHe announced Antenne 2 that he liked “Our work is a reflection of the world, which is a very mixed world, where people of very different cultures are forced to live and thrive together.” He traveled a lot with his team in Asia, South America, Africa.
About his work with actors, he told the Swiss Daily on September 27, 2020 Le Temps: “After all, I don’t want to give them the idea that I know everything and I’m instructing them. We’re comrades, we’re holding hands and we’re going to travel together.”
In the same article, he talks about his relationship with the public: “My concern is not always to bother and not to bother others. I’ve often noticed this in movies: after the first image hits, people fall asleep. We have no right to let them go. We play so that tired spectators are fascinated after a hard day’s work. “
“Extremely serious shows bothered me and I wanted to add a grain of comic salt to them.” He added. “Conversely, if it’s too ridiculous, I feel the need to introduce a little gravity. Shakespeare suggested to me: this change of humor and tragedy is very necessary for me.”
“Why do theater?” He always surprised at 95
In addition to dozens of plays, Peter Brook has directed the opera: Bohemian (1948), Boris Gadunov (1948), Olympus (1949), Salom (1949) and Figaro’s marriage (1949) at Covent Garden, London (UK), Faust (1953), Eugene Wangin (1957) in the Metropolitan of New York (United States), Carmen’s tragedy (1981) and Impressions of Pelleas (1992) at the Theater des Bouffes du Nord and Don Giovanni (1998) for the Festival d’X-n-Provence. He created in 2010 A magic flute After Mozart and Shikenedar with Marie-Helen Estian and Frank Kraukzic.
He also made films: Moderato CantabileBased on the novel by Margaret Duras (1959), Your Majesty (1963), Marat / Sade (1967), Yes (1969), Meetings with notable men (1976), Mahabharata (1989) and The Hamlet tragedy (2002).
In 2010, Peter Brooke handed over to the management of the Boffes du Nord Theater but continued to work. In September 2020, at the age of 95, he opened the season of the National Popular Theater (TNP) in Villeurbanne (Rhône), which was surrounded by a workshop. Storm Presentation of Shakespeare and his latest creations WhyOn the question of interest in the dramatic art. “I hate the idea of a director who’s there like a boss.” He said. He likes to talk “Guides who have already made this path”. Always looking for exactly what on stage, he is always amazed : “Why do theater? What’s the matter with that?”
In 1991 Peter Brook got for director Moliere Storm. In 2019, she was awarded the Princess of Asturias Prize in Spain. The jury applauded him “The Best Theater Director of the 20th Century”.