Peter Brook. A life in theatre. Early career. At the beginning of his career Brook was a successful commercial director, working in London and Paris. He directed many of the legends of the 1940s and 50s like John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier. Early Career.
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A life in theatre
His obsession with the power of images over words had a logical basis.
As early as the 1960s he recognised that people’s lives were becoming dominated by images: photographs, film clips, and television were changing the way people related with the world and therefore theatre had to change to remain relevant to the average person, who was becoming less interested in ‘the word’
Neither a rehearsal, nor an acting class, the workshop is a chance to experiment, requiring an openness and a freedom form the participants. The workshop doesn’t always generate useful material in the same way a rehearsal does, but it always generates ideas.
"The rough theatre deals with men's actions and because it is down to earth and direct - because it admits wickedness and laughter - the rough and ready seems better than the hollowly holy”
3) The Holy Theatre: A theatre of ritual and spiritual exploration, typified by the work of Artaud. Not always hugely successful but sometimes incredibly powerful, the holy theatre is able to make the ‘metaphysical’ (the spiritual or invisible elements in life) appear on stage through use of patterns, rhythms and structure.
Brook compares the power of the holy theatre to the power of music - both are absurd if considered logically, but both make sense if we allow them to.
4) The immediate theatre.
This is the phrase Brook applied to his own work - describing the challenges faced by modern theatre directors and musing on the role itself, what a director could and should to to ensure he/she creates living, important, worthwhile theatre.
Brook’s famous production of Marat / Sade is a combination of what Brook would describe as the Rough and the Holy. It is both earthy, immediate and aggressive, whilst at the same time containing abstract and ritualistic elements.
Brook’s process of developing Marat / Sade is recorded in David Jones’ book ‘Great Directors at Work’
Great Directors at Work (Brook) Jones, D.R
The Empty Space - Brook, P (esp final chapter)
Theatre Studies - An Approach for advanced level - Mackay and Cooper
50 Great Theatre Directors - Mitter
Many other textbooks will have sections on Peter Brook and the blog will shortly contain a series of links to his work and writing about him.