Marie-Hélène Estienne


The French director, dramaturg and writer Marie-Hélène Estienne started her career as a theatre critic and journalist for the French publications Le Nouvel Observateur and Les Nouvelles Littéraires. In her own words, she was 'bored stiff' in this job and started to concentrate on producing. As an assistant to Michel Guy she contributed to the programming of the Paris Festival d'Automne and in 1974 approached Peter Brook asking if she could work with him. Brook consented, and after the casting for Timon of Athens Estienne became a member of Brook's Centre International de Créations Théâtrales (CICT), starting out as a production member for Ubu aux Bouffes (1977). At the CICT she rose to become Brook's assistant, resident writer and dramaturg. She worked on, amongst others, Le Tragédie de Carmen (1981), The Mahabarata (1985) and The Tempest (1990), she wrote and adapted The Man Who (1994) and The Grand Inquisitor (2004) – based on Dostoyevsky's short story from The Brothers Karamazov - and she wrote the text for Tierno Bokar (2005). With Brook and composer Frank Krawczyck she staged her own, stripped down version of The Magic Flute by Mozart and Schikaneder, entitled Une flûte enchantée. Estienne: ‘In the theatre it's great to be able to share responsibilities. Peter and I understand each other, we communicate well and have a good working relationship. He's a genius, always sharp, unpredictable and open.'