Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne

Profile

In a career spanning 70 years, Peter Brook (London, 1925) has established himself as one of the truly groundbreaking film, theatre and opera directors of his generation. Directing his first play in 1943, he has since built a monumental body of work. His work is acclaimed worldwide, not only for its magnitude and stylistic range, but also because of Brook's continuous urge for innovation. For twenty years he was the resident director of The Royal Shakespeare Company, staging groundbreaking versions of Love’s Labour’s Lost (1946), Titus Andronicus (1955), King Lear (1962), Marat/Sade (1964) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1970). He also made many of his successful plays into films. With Micheline Rozan he founded the research institute and production company Centre International de Créations Théâtrales (CICT) in 1971, which has since 1974 resided permanently at the Théâtres des Bouffes du Nord in Paris. There, the company worked on many acclaimed productions, including Brook's monumental adaptation of The Mahabharata (1985), as well as Ubu aux Bouffes (1977), Conference of the Birds (1979), The Tempest (1990), The Man Who (1994), Le Costume (1999), The Tragedy of Hamlet (2000), The Grand Inquisitor (2004) and Tierno Bokar (2005). Many of these productions were performed in two languages.

Meanwhile, Brook also made his mark on opera, staging, amongst others, La Bohème (1948), Eugene Onegin (1957), La Tragédie de Carmen (1981), Don Giovanni (1998) and Une flûte enchantée (2011). Influenced by the ideas of the French theatre visionary Antonin Artaud (1896 – 1948) and his 'theatre of cruelty', Brook became one of the first theatre directors in his generation to see the need for an open, empty theatre space to enhance the contact between the audience and the actors. Brook was adamant that every form of numbing the audience into a sense of comfort had to be banned. To him, direct and raw human connections are the essence of good theatre. Brook has received many awards in his long-standing career, including two Tony Awards for Best Direction of a Play, the international Emmy Award and The Ibsen Award. He has been made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1965) and Commandeur de la Légion d'honneur (2013).