British theater legend Peter Brook, one of the most influential directors of the 20th century, died Saturday at the age of 97, he learned AFP from his entourage Sunday, confirming information from World.
The master of theater, born in Great Britain, but who spent a good part of his career in France, at the helm of his Parisian theater Les Bouffes du Nord, had reinvented the art of directing by favoring clear forms over traditional decorations.
It was in the 1960s, after dozens of successes, including numerous works by Shakespeare, and after directing the greatest – from Laurence Olivier to Orson Welles – that this son of Jewish Lithuanian immigrants began his experimental period.
With the Royal Shakespeare Company he made a bare “King Lear” (1962) and above all his surprising production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (1970) in a white cube-shaped gymnasium: this is the theory of ” empty space ”that will surely mark contemporary theater.
Published for the first time in book form in 1968, it gives free rein to the public’s imagination and is considered a “bible” for lovers of avant-garde theater. “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 blue-eyed friend I’ve ever seen has left the house,” fellow director and actor Simon McBurney tweeted Sunday.
His “Marat / Sade” captivated 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 Theater Research Center” at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord.
He stages monumental works fueled by exoticism, with actors from different cultures, and will film all over the world, often in invisible places: 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 poem from Hindu mythology (1985), which he premiered at the Avignon festival and which was adapted for cinema in 1989.
In the 90s, when he triumphed in the UK with Samuel Beckett’s “Oh les beaux jours”, critics acclaimed him as “the best director London doesn’t have”.
After an adventure of over 35 years in the Bouffes du Nord, Peter Brook left the direction of the theater in 2010 at the age of 85, while continuing to stage productions there until recently.
“Peter Brook has given us the most beautiful silences in the theater, but this last silence is infinitely sad”, reacted on Twitter the French Minister of Culture Rima Abdul Malak, saying that with him “the scene was purified with the most vivid intensity. “.
In 2019 he pays homage in “Why? to Meyerhold, a great Russian figure of the theater and victim of the Stalinist purges, recalling a quote from him: “The theater is a dangerous weapon”.
He has always refused to do committed theater, preferring theater that invites reflection or spirituality, both with Shakespearean works and with adaptations such as Carmen.
“Some reporters come to ask me: + So, do you think you can change the world? +. This makes me laugh. I’ve never had that statement, it’s ridiculous, “the man who three years earlier had been shaken by the death of his wife, actress Natasha Parry, told AFP in 2018.
In addition to his faithful collaborator Marie-Hélène Estienne, he leaves two children, director Simon Brook and theater director Irina Brook.