One of the most important theater directors of the 20th century has died. With his productions he has influenced generations of theater makers.
The British theater director Peter Brook, who became internationally famous with productions such as “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Tragedy of Carmen”, is dead. He died in Paris on Saturday at the age of 97, wrote the French news agency AFP, citing Brooks personally Surroundings.
The director is considered one of the most important representatives of contemporary European theatre. Critics have repeatedly praised him to the skies and called him the “magic doctor of the theatre”.
Again and again Shakespeare
Brook invented his own theatrical language and had a major impact on modern theater. He staged many classics – including William Shakespeare again and again – in a peculiar way. He dispensed with stage decorations and optical effects and placed physical expression in the foreground. For this reason, his pieces were also described as ascetic.
Brook was always looking for an original theatrical art. «A man walks across the room while another looks on; that’s all that is necessary for theatrical action,” wrote the cult director in his 1968 publication “The Empty Room,” which received much acclaim. The actors should be the focus of the production.
While Brook initially dealt mainly with plays by Shakespeare, later plays by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Jean-Paul Sartre and Peter Weiss followed.
Brook was born in London on March 21, 1925 to Jewish immigrants. In 1943, while still a student, he brought out a production with his own theater company, later he worked as a director for various houses.
In 1962 he became, with Peter Hall, one of the directors of the famous Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. Again and again he brought plays with contemporary, socially critical aspects to the stage.
The “Magic Cave” in Paris
He has lived in Paris since the early 1970s. There he founded the Institute for Theater Research and settled his theater group at the Bouffes du Nord stage. The theater achieved cult status.
Developed in collaboration with a multilingual and cosmopolitan company, most of his productions were first presented in this “magic cave” before going on a world tour.
With his actors, he worked on language-independent forms of communication in the theater. He developed a spoken language that should be understandable across cultures. “I used my ability to help actors bring hidden qualities to light,” he once said in an interview with France Inter.
His world-famous productions include “The Tempest”, “The Mahabharata” and “Tierno Bokar”. The “Mahabharata” – a Hindu epic and important religious and philosophical work – brought Brook to the stage in a mammoth production of nine hours.
Brook has received numerous awards. He was Commander of the Order of the British Empire and Knight of the French Legion of Honour.
In 2010 he gave up the management of the Bouffes du Nord stage. Since then, Brook has lived a reclusive life. He will be remembered as someone who set new standards in modern theater for decades.