Theater legend dies at 97

Theater legend dies at 97

British Peter Brook, theater legend and one of the most influential directors of the 20th century, died on Saturday at the age of 97, AFP learned on Sunday from his surroundings, confirming information from Mundo.

The theater teacher, born in Great Britain, but who developed a large part of his career in France, at the head of his Parisian theater Les Bouffes du Nord, had reinvented the art of directing, favoring clean forms over traditional sets.

It was in the 1960s, after dozens of successes, including numerous Shakespeare plays, and after directing the greatest – from Laurence Olivier to Orson Welles – that this son of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants began his experimental stage.

He created with the Royal Shakespeare Company a nude “King Lear” (1962) and above all his amazing montage of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (1970) in a white cube-shaped gym: this is the theory of the “void”. space” that will definitively mark contemporary theater.

First published in book form in 1968, it unleashes the public’s imagination and is considered a “bible” for lovers of avant-garde theatre. “I can take any empty space and call it a stage” is one of his famous phrases.

“The visionary, the provocateur, the prophet, the trickster and the friend with the bluest eyes I have ever seen has left home,” director and actor Simon McBurney tweeted on Sunday.

His “Marat/Sade” fascinated London and New York and earned him a Tony Award in 1966.

In the early 1970s, he moved to France, where he founded the “International Center for Theater Research” at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord.

It stages monumental pieces full of exoticism, with actors from different cultures, and will shoot all over the world, often in unprecedented locations: from African villages to the streets of the Bronx passing through the Parisian suburbs.

His best-known work is “Le Mahabharata”, a nine-hour epic of Hindu mythology (1985), which he presented for the first time at the Avignon festival and which was adapted for the cinema in 1989.

In the 1990s, when he was a hit in the UK with Samuel Beckett’s “Oh les beaux jours”, critics hailed him as “the best director London doesn’t have”.

After an adventure of more than 35 years in the Bouffes du Nord, Peter Brook left the management of the theater in 2010, at the age of 85, and continued to stage productions there until recently.

“Peter Brook gave us the most beautiful silences in the theater, but this last silence is infinitely sad,” French Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak reacted on Twitter, saying that with him “the scene has been purified to the most vivid intensity “.

In 2019 he pays tribute to him in “Why? to Meyerhold, great Russian figure of the theater and victim of the Stalinist purges, recalling one of his phrases: “Theatre is a dangerous weapon”.

He has always refused to do committed theater, preferring theater that invites reflection or spirituality, be it with Shakespearean plays or adaptations like Carmen.

“Some journalists come to ask me: + So, do you think you can change the world? +. This makes me laugh. I never had this claim, it’s ridiculous, ”the man who had been shaken three years earlier by the death of his wife, actress Natasha Parry, confided to AFP in 2018.

In addition to his faithful collaborator Marie-Hélène Estienne, he leaves behind two children, director Simon Brook and theater director Irina Brook.

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