Blog and online portfolio of Ian Pollard

Peter Brook: an introduction

Peter Brook (1925-) may be described in many ways.

He is the erudite author of An Empty Space (1969) in which he outlined a philosophy of theatre which remains pertinent and influential today. He is the film-maker, telling the story of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (1866?-1949), the Greek-Armenian spiritual teacher in Meetings With Remarkable Men (1979). He is the theatre director who took The Mahabarata through the African continent with a rug and a minimum of props. He is the catalyst and director of the Bouffes du Nord theatre, Paris, a historically troubled antique music-hall preserved in it’s near crumbling state, and transformed into his own ‘bricks and mortar’ manifesto. He is the practitioner influenced by the experimental and provocative theatre of Jerzy Grotowski (1933-1999), Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) and Antonin Artaud (1896-1948).

Most recently however, he is the director of 11 & 12, a play that may have been 5 years in writing, but has probably been a lifetime in gestation. 11 & 12 is firstly a play about the story of Tierno Bokar (1875-1939), a Malian Sufi mystic, and muslim spiritual teacher. It is equally a play that considers the possibility of religious tolerance, and the destructive power of religious fundamentalism that has plagued humanity throughout it’s bloody history. A local disagreement over whether a prayer should be repeated 11 or 12 times becomes a force of aggression that eventually leads to global repercussions. 11 & 12 is also a meditation on the role of simplicity in theatre. On the large barbican stage, for peter brook, a large rug can transform from the desert sand to on origami canoe, rocked to and fro in a gentle swell.


Filed under: Theatre

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