Image Source: World of Theatre and Art
Publisher Nick Hern Books has confirmed the death of director Peter Brook, whose groundbreaking theatrical creations revolutionized theater in the 20th century, at the age of 97.
Simon and Irina, his children, who are both directors, shared news of his passing on social media, with Simon expressing gratitude for having such a wonderful and devoted father. Neither of them gave specifics regarding the manner or location of their father’s passing.
Before staging a production of Shakespeare’s “King John” in Birmingham, England, Brook, who was born in London in 1925, had his directing debut in the early 1940s. After premiering avant-garde plays by Jean-Paul Sartre and Jean Cocteau, he went on to direct a series of highly regarded Shakespearean productions with some of the era’s greatest actors, from a 1955 production of “Hamlet” with Paul Scofield to a European tour of “Titus Andronicus” with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh.
Brook gained a reputation for defying convention while working for a significant amount of time with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in the UK. His staging of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which won a Tony Award in 1970 and featured Frances de la Tour, Ben Kingsley, and later Patrick Stewart, is among his most well-known works. It rejected the traditional interpretations of the time with a minimal staging, overtly sexual undertones, and globally-inclusive modern costumes.
The play continues to “exert a profound impact on theater artists today,” according to the organization. As a result, it is frequently referred to as “Peter Brook’s Dream.”
Along with the English playwright’s works, Brook also directed two Tony Award-winning productions of German writer Peter Weiss’s “Marat/Sade” while working at the RSC. “US,” a scathing condemnation of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, and “Marat/Sade” are examples of the plays he directed. In 1967, Brook would go on to make a well-known adaptation of the latter, one of the more than a dozen movies he would go on to produce in his lifetime, which also included adaptations of “King Lear” and William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.”
When the Bouffes du Nord theater in Paris needed a leader, Brook moved to France in 1970 and assumed control. He was in charge of translating Shakespeare into French as well as works by authors like Senegalese poet Birago Diop and Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov.
Additionally, the Bouffes du Nord served as the home of Brook’s International Centre for Theatre Research, a group of performers, directors, and others who traversed the globe performing plays and investigating qualities of narrative that may cut through cultural boundaries. The trio is well known for creating a nine-hour version of the classic Indian epic “The Mahabharata,” which Brook later turned into a five-hour film of the same name.
Peter Brook told the Sufi elder Tierno Bokar’s life story in his later years, and in his translation of Can Themba’s “The Suit,” he also detailed the difficulties of Black South Africans under apartheid.
Additionally praised for performing outside of traditional theater settings. For example, while touring undeveloped nations, his troop performed in abandoned buildings and ethnic villages.
From 1951 until her passing in 2015, Brook was wed to Natasha Parry, an actress.
In addition to the aforementioned Tony Awards, he also won an Emmy, an International Emmy, the Prix Italia, and Japan’s Praemium Imperiale, making him one of the theater’s most illustrious characters. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire and a Companion of Honor in the UK before being designated a Commander of the French Legion of Honor in 2013.