Tributes paid to legendary opera and theatre director Peter Brook CBE who has died aged 97
Legendary opera and theatre director Peter Brook CBE died on Saturday aged 97.
Often referred to as “our greatest living theatre director”, Brook had a close relationship with the RSC, where he was an associate artist.
After graduating Oxford University and directing two plays, including Dr Faustus at the Torch Theatre in London, he first came to Stratford in 1947 aged 22 as an assistant director on Rome and Juliet and Love’s Labour’s Lost.
His prolific output saw him write ground-breaking and seminal books about putting on theatre, as well as directing in theatre, film and opera. He picked up awards multiple Tony and Emmy Awards, a Laurence Olivier Award, the Japanese Praemium Imperiale, and the Prix Italia.
The RSC said today (Sunday) that it was “deeply saddened to hear of the passing of visionary director and RSC Honorary Associate Artist, Peter Brook”.
A spokesperson continued: “Peter was a giant of European theatre, who breathed exhilarating new life into the art form. His influence at the Royal Shakespeare Company cannot be overestimated, with more than 20 years of artistry and experiment, including the remarkable US, a daring response to the Vietnam war which premiered at the Aldwych in 1966 with a cast including Glenda Jackson.
“In 1970, he directed the truly revolutionary A Midsummer Night’s Dream, designed by Sally Jacobs and a cast including Frances de la Tour, Ben Kingsley and Patrick Stewart. This production completely reset what it meant to bring Shakespeare alive for a contemporary audience, and continues to exert a serious influence on theatre artists today.”
Erica Whyman, RSC Acting Artistic Director said: "I was privileged to get to know Peter in the 1990s at the National Theatre Studio where he generously shared his practice with younger theatre-makers, and later when I presented his work at Northern Stage. He was a mesmerising person, fascinated by the potential of human beings to communicate the most delicate feelings and thoughts to one another, by respecting the commanding simplicity of an ‘empty space’."
Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director Emeritus added: "When Peter was last in Stratford in February 2019, he generously agreed to come and talk to the acting company. At 94, he still conveyed the boundless curiosity which has characterised his career. From the Watteau-inspired Love’s Labour’s Lost in Stratford in 1947, to the ground-breaking Titus Andronicus with Olivier in 1955, from the Theatre of Cruelty Season to the legendary A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1970, from the Marat/Sade to the Mahabharata, Peter defined the essential. We 'shall not look upon his like again’."
The spokesperson commented: “Peter’s decades of captivating work at Les Bouffes Du Nord emerged from the explorations he was undertaking at the RSC. His influence will never be forgotten and his spirit will be sorely missed.”