Peter Brook at the Peter Brook: Empty Space Awards, London, in November 2009
|Born||Peter Stephen Paul Brook
21 March 1925
Brook was born in London in March 1925, the son of Simon Brook and his wife Ida (Jansen), two Jewish immigrants from Latvia. He was educated at Westminster School, Gresham's School and Magdalen College, Oxford.
He directed Dr Faustus, his first production, in 1943 at the Torch Theatre in London, followed at the Chanticleer Theatre in 1945 with a revival of The Infernal Machine. In 1947, he went to Stratford-upon-Avon as assistant director on Romeo and Juliet and Love's Labour's Lost. From 1947 to 1950, he was Director of Productions at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. His work there included a highly controversial staging of Strauss’ Salome with sets by Salvador Dalí and also an effective re-staging of Puccini’s La Boheme using sets dating from 1899. A proliferation of stage and screen work as producer and director followed. Dark of the Moon by Howard Richardson, 1948 – 1949, at Ambassadors Theatre, London, was a much early admired production.
In 1951, Brook married the actress Natasha Parry; the couple have a son and a daughter.
In 1970, with Micheline Rozan, Brook founded the International Centre for Theatre Research, a multinational company of actors, dancers, musicians and others which travelled widely in the Middle East and Africa in the early 1970s. It is now based in Paris at the Bouffes du Nord theatre. In 2008 he made the decision to resign as artistic director of Bouffes du Nord, handing over to Olivier Mantei and Olivier Poubelle in 2008.
In England, Peter Brook and Charles Marowitz undertook The Theatre of Cruelty Season (1964) at the Royal Shakespeare Company, aiming to explore ways in which Artaud's ideas could be used to find new forms of expression and retrain the performer. The result was a showing of 'works in progress' made up of improvisations and sketches, one of which was the premier of Artaud's The Spurt of Blood.
- – Lee Jamieson, Antonin Artaud: From Theory to Practice, Greenwich Exchange, 2007
His major influence, however, was Joan Littlewood. Brook described her as "the most galvanising director in mid-20th century Britain".
Brook's work is also inspired by the theories of experimental theatre of Jerzy Grotowski, Bertolt Brecht, Chris Covics and Vsevolod Meyerhold and by the works of G. I. Gurdjieff, Edward Gordon Craig, and Matila Ghyka.
In the mid 1970s, Brook, with writer Jean-Claude Carrière, began work on adapting the Indian epic poem the Mahābhārata into a stage play which was first performed in 1985 and then later into a televised mini series.
In 2005 Brook directed Tierno Bokar, based on the life of the Malian sufi of the same name. The play was adapted for the stage by Marie-Helene Estienne from a book by Amadou Hampate Ba (translated into English as A Spirit of Tolerance: The Inspiring Life of Tierno Bokar). The book and play detail Bokar's life and message of religious tolerance. Columbia University produced 44 related events, lectures, and workshops that were attended by over 3,200 people throughout the run of Tierno Bokar. Panel discussions focused on topics of religious tolerance and Muslim tradition in West Africa.
Major productions for the RSC
- 1950 Measure for Measure with John Gielgud (Shakespeare Memorial Theatre)
- 1952 The Winter's Tale with John Gielgud (Shakespeare Memorial Theatre)
- 1958 Titus Andronicus with Laurence Olivier (Shakespeare Memorial Theatre)
- 1962 King Lear with Paul Scofield
- 1964 Marat/Sade
- 1966 US an anti-Vietnam protest play with The Royal Shakespeare Company, documented in the film Benefit of the Doubt
- 1970 A Midsummer Night's Dream with John Kane (Puck), Frances de la Tour (Helena), Ben Kingsley (Demetrius) and Patrick Stewart (Snout): see 1970 Royal Shakespeare Company production of A Midsummer Night's Dream
Other major productions
- 1955 : Hamlet with Paul Scofield
- 1958 : The Visit with Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne
- 1964 : Marat/Sade
- 1968 : Oedipus with John Gielgud and Irene Worth
- 1971-72 : Orghast in Persepolis by Ted Hughes
- 1974 : Timon d' Athènes, adaptation Jean-Claude Carrière, Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
- 1975 : The Iks by Colin Turnbull, adaptation Jean-Claude Carrière, Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
- 1977 : Ubu aux Bouffes after Alfred Jarry, Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
- 1978 : Mesure pour mesure by William Shakespeare, Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
- 1979 : La Conférence des oiseaux (The Conference of the Birds) after Farid al-Din Attar, Festival d'Avignon, Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
- 1979 : L'Os de Mor Lam by Birago Diop, Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
- 1981 : La Tragédie de Carmen after Prosper Mérimée, Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, Viviane Beaumont Theater, Lincoln Center, New York
- 1981 : La Cerisaie by Anton Chekhov, Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
- 1984 : Tchin-Tchin by François Billetdoux, mise en scène with Maurice Bénichou, with Marcello Mastroianni, Théâtre Montparnasse
- 1985 : Le Mahabharata, (The Mahabharata) Festival d'Avignon
- 1988 : The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov, Majestic Theatre, Brooklyn
- 1989 : Woza Albert! by Percy Mtawa, Mbongeni Ngema et Barney Simon
- 1990 : La Tempête by William Shakespeare, adaptation Jean-Claude Carrière, with Sotigui Kouyaté, Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
- 1992 : Impressions de Pelléas after Claude Debussy, Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
- 1993 : L'Homme Qui after The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
- 1995 : Qui est là after texts by Antonin Artaud, Bertolt Brecht, Edward Gordon Craig, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Stanislavski and Motokiyo Zeami
- 1995 : Oh les beaux jours by Samuel Beckett
- 1998 : Je suis un phénomène after prodigieuse mémoire by Alexander Luria
- 1998 : Don Giovanni by Mozart, création au 50ème Festival international d'art lyrique d'Aix-en-Provence
- 1999 : Le Costume by Can Themba
- 2000 : Hamlet by William Shakespeare, with Adrian Lester
- 2002 : Far Away by Caryl Churchill
- 2002 : La Mort de Krishna extrait du Mahabharata de Vyasa, adaptation Jean-Claude Carrière and Marie-Hélène Estienne
- 2003 : Ta main dans la mienne by Carol Rocamora
- 2004 : Tierno Bokar after Vie et enseignement de Tierno Bokar-Le sage de Bandiagara by Amadou Hampâté Bâ, with Sotigui Kouyaté
- 2004 : Le Grand Inquisiteur after The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky
- 2006 : Sizwe Banzi est mort by Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona, Festival d'Avignon
- 2008 : Fragments after Samuel Beckett
- 2009 : Love is my sin sonnets by William Shakespeare
- 2009 : 11 and 12 after Vie et enseignement de Tierno Bokar-Le Sage de Bandiagara by Amadou Hampâté Bâ
- 2010 : Warum warum by Peter Brook et Marie-Hélène Estienne after Antonin Artaud, Edward Gordon Craig, Charles Dullin, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Motokiyo Zeami and William Shakespeare
- 2011 : A Magic Flute an adaptation of the opera The Magic Flute by Mozart. Directed with Marie-Hélène Estienne, Composer Franck Krawczyk to positive reviews at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater of John Jay College.
- 2013 : The Suit after Can Themba's tale. Directed with Marie-Hélène Estienne, Franck Krawczyk.
- 1953, The Beggar's Opera
- 1960, Moderato Cantabile (UK title Seven Days... Seven Nights)
- 1963, Lord of the Flies
- 1967, Ride of the Valkyrie
- 1967, Marat/Sade
- 1968, Tell Me Lies
- 1971, King Lear
- 1979, Meetings with Remarkable Men
- 1979, Mesure pour mesure
- 1982, La Cerisaie
- 1983, La Tragédie de Carmen
- 1989, The Mahabharata
- 2002, The Tragedy of Hamlet (TV)
- Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play for Marat/Sade, 1966
- Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play for A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1971
- Freiherr von Stein Foundation Shakespeare Award, 1973
- Grand Prix Dominique, 1975
- Brigadier Prize, 1975, for Timon of Athens
- Society of West End Theatre Award, 1983
- Emmy Award, 1984, for La tragédie de Carmen
- Prix Italia, 1984
- Europe Theatre Prize.
- International Emmy Award, 1990, for The Mahabharata
- Praemium Imperiale, 1997
- Dan David prize, 2005
- The Ibsen Award for 2008, first winner of the prize of NOK2.5 mill (approximately £200,000).
- Critics' Circle Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts 2008
- Commander of the Order of the British Empire, 1965
- Induction into the American Theater Hall of Fame, 1983 
- Honorary DLitt, University of Birmingham, 1990
- Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, 1991
- Honorary DLitt, University of Strathclyde, 1990
- Honorary DLitt, University of Oxford, 1994
- Officier de l'Ordre de la Légion d'honneur (France), 1995
- Companion of Honour, 1998
- Commandeur de la Légion d'honneur (France), 2013
- Brook, Peter (1968). The Empty Space. Penguin (2008).
- Brook, Peter (1988). The Shifting Point. UK: Methuen Drama. ISBN 0-413-61280-5.
- Brook, Peter (1991). Le Diable c'est l'ennui.
- Brook, Peter (1993). There Are No Secrets. Methuen Drama.
- Brook, Peter (1995). The Open Door.
- Brook, Peter (1998). Threads of Time: Recollections.
- Brook, Peter (1999). Evoking Shakespeare. Nick Hern Books (2nd Ed 2002).
- Jamieson, Lee, Antonin Artaud: From Theory to Practice (Greenwich Exchange: London, 2007) Contains practical exercises on Artaud drawn from Brook's Theatre of Cruelty Season at the RSC. ISBN 978-1-871551-98-3
- Freeman, John, 'The Greatest Shows on Earth: World Theatre from Peter Brook to the Sydney Olympics'. Libri: Oxford ISBN 978 1 907471 54 4
- Heilpern, John, Conference of the Birds: The Story of Peter Brook in Africa, Faber, 1977, ISBN 0-571-10372-3
- Hunt, Albert and Geoffrey Reeves. Peter Brook (Directors in Perspective). Cambridge University Press. (1995)
- Kustow, Michael. Peter Brook: A Biography. Bloomsbury. (2005)
- Moffitt, Dale, Between Two Silences: Talking with Peter Brook (1999)
- Todd, Andrew and Jean-Guy Lecat, The Open Circle: Peter Brook's Theatre Environments (2003)
- Trewin, J. C. Peter Brook: A Biography. (1971)
- Trowbridge, Simon. The Company: A Biographical Dictionary of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Oxford: Editions Albert Creed, 2010. ISBN 978-0-9559830-2-3.
- Zohar, Ouriel, Meetings with Peter Brook, Zohar, Tel-Aviv 176 p. (1990) (He).
- Aronson, Arnold (2005-05-25). "Peter Brook: A Biography". The New York Times.
- Chambers, Colin The Continuum Companion To Twentieth Century Theatre (Continuum, 2002, ISBN 0-8264-4959-X) p. 384
- Chrisafis, Angelique (2008-12-17). "Interview: Peter Brook says a long goodbye to his Paris theatre". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2008-12-29.
- Brook, Peter (1968). The Empty Space.
- Nicolescu, Basarab; Williams, David (1997). "Peter Brook and Traditional Thought". Contemporary Theatre Review (Overseas Publishers Association) 7: 11–23. doi:10.1080/10486809708568441.
- "Pas de deux" by Michael Holroyd, The Guardian, Saturday 7 March 2009
- Gibbons, Fiachra The prayers of Peter Brook The Guardian, 17 January 2010.
- Morgenstern, Joe (April 17, 1988). "Jean-Claude Pierre; the Mahabharata, the great history of mankind - interview about the stage adaptation". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-10-06.
- Carriere, Jean-Claude (September 1989). "Jean-Claude Carriere; the Mahabharata, the great history of mankind - interview about the stage adaptation". UNESCO Courier. Retrieved 2007-10-06.
- Columbia University, "Record of Events"
- "Tony Awards". Retrieved 2008-02-13.
- II Europe Theatre Prize / Reasons Europe Theatre Prize
- "British director wins the Ibsen Prize". Norway.org. Retrieved 2008-08-21.[dead link]
- "Theater Hall of Fame Gets 10 New Members". New York Times. May 10, 1983.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Peter Brook|
- The Company: A Biographical Dictionary of the RSC: Online database by Simon Trowbridge
- Dan David Prize laureate 2005
- Peter Brook biography and filmography at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
- Peter Brook at the Internet Movie Database
- Screener for Brook by Brook on YouTube
- Peter Brook profile by Experimental Theatre Organization
- Review of Brook's Mahabharata in Caravan Magazine
- Master's Degree in Urban Scenography in Barcelona