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Pontificia Universidad Catlica de Chile

Escuela de Teatro
Taller de Actuacin II
Profesor: Luis Ureta
Ayudante: David Atencio
Alumnos: Roxana Khamg
Tahina Johnson
Matas Seplveda

Peter Brook y El espacio vaco

Resea biogrfica. Peter Brook y su contexto
Nace en 1925 en los suburbios de Londres, hijo de una pareja de inmigrantes judos que
huyen en 1916 de Latvia, en ese entonces parte Rusia. Desde muy temprana edad
manifiesta un profundo inters por el teatro y el cine, dirigiendo su primera versin de
Hamlet a los 7 aos, que duraba 4 horas y en la cual interpretaba a todos los personajes.
Comenz su carrera en el cine dirigiendo a los 17 aos El viaje sentimental y estudi arte
en Oxford, convirtindose en uno de los graduados ms jvenes. Mientras, escriba guiones
y comerciales para televisin. Su primera obra estrenada al pblico fue Doktor Faustus en
1943, para el Torch Theatre en Londres, seguida por un remake de La mquina infernal, de
Jean Cocteau. En 1945 viaja a Stratford-upon-Avon, llamado por sir Barry Jackson, para
dirigir una versin de Trabajos de amor perdidos, su primer trabajo importante y el cual,
segn sus propias palabras en El espacio vaco, cambi definitivamente su forma de
concebir la direccin: Mis horas de preparacin eran intiles, me sent desalentado,
perdido por completo. Deba empezar de nuevo, instruir a los actores con el fin de
ajustarlos a mis notas? Una voz interior me urga a hacerlo as, pero otra me indicaba que
mi modelo era mucho menos interesante que el que se desarrollaba ante m: rico en energa,
pleno de variaciones personales () prometedor de ritmos diferentes, abierto a inesperadas
posibilidades. () Me apart de mis notas, me situ entre los actores y a partir de entonces
no he vuelto a trazar ningn plan de antemano. Comprend de una vez para siempre la
presuncin y la locura de creer que un modelo inanimado puede suplantar al hombre.
Desde 1947 a 1950 dirigi numerosas producciones de la Royal Opera House,
preocupndose tambin del diseo de escenarios y vestuarios y buscando innovaciones que
pudiesen atraer al pblico moderno. Algunos de sus trabajos son la controversial versin de
Salome, con decorados de Salvador Dal, as como tambin la puesta en escena de La
Boheme. Durante los 50 se casa con la actriz Natasha Parry y dirige numerosas
producciones, tanto en cine como teatro, en Estados Unidos e Inglaterra, y trabajando con
actores como Laurence Olivier y Paul Schofield.
Brook, called the "golden boy," did his first production at Stratford Theatre, one of
the world's most prestigious stages, at the young age of 21. It was Shakespeare's
Loves Labours Lost. He spent the next several years staging acclaimed
productions of plays. He worked at the Covent Garden directing opera, as well as
designing the sets and costumes for his productions. Always seeking innovations
and styles which would make his productions speak to modern audiences, he
ended this experience with opera by calling it "deadly theater." He directed plays
with prominent actors, including Laurence Olivier in Titus Andronicus and Paul
Schofield in King Lear. (Brook also directed the film version of this production.) In
1961 Peter Brook directed one of his seven films, the chilling Peter Shaffer
adaptation of Lord of the Flies.
Despite his successes and the fact that he was named as one of the directors of
the famous Royal Shakespeare Company in 1962, Brook continued to seek out
alternative ways to create vibrant, meaningful theater. This search led him to direct
a season of experimental theater with the Royal Shakespeare Company in which
he was free from the commercial constraints of box office concerns. The season
was called "Theatre of Cruelty," a name taken from the works of Antonin Artaud,
one of this century's most influential theater men. Brook's desire was to turn away
from stars and to create an ensemble of actors who improvised during a long
rehearsal period in a search of the meaning of "holy theater."
Out of this search would come the director's finest work. In 1964 Brook directed
Genet's The Screens and Peter Weiss' Marat Sade, for which he received seven
major awards and introduced Glenda Jackson to the theater. Influenced by Bertolt
Brecht and Artaud, Marat Sade shocked the audience with its insane asylum
environment. In 1966 he developed US, a play about the Vietnam experience and
the horrors of war. The production reflected a collective statement by all of the
artists involved and was certainly a departure from traditional theater. Jerzy
Grotowski, one of the most important theater directors of this century and a man
who profoundly influenced Brook, came to work with the company during this
production. Brook also did an adaptation of Seneca's Oedipus by Ted Hughes, a
renowned English poet who continued to collaborate with the director for many
years. The culmination of this phase of Brook's work was his production of A
Midsummer Night's Dream (1970). Using trapezes, juggling, and circus effects,
Brook and his actors created a sense of magic, joy, and celebration in this
interpretation of Shakespeare's play. It was a masterpiece of the theater.
After this highly successful production, Brook went to Paris and founded the
International Center of Theatre Research. He wanted to find a new form of theater
that could speak to people worldwidetheater which was truly universal. He also
wanted to work in an environment of unlimited rehearsal time in order to allow for a
deep search-of-self for all involved. The first production that came out of this third
phase was Orghast (1971), which employed a new language based on sound
developed by Ted Hughes. This production, performed at the ruins of Persepolis in
Persia, used actors from many different cultures. Brook sought a communication
that transcends language, to find the common experience of all of us. In 1972 and
1973 his group traveled across the Sahara and elsewhere in Africa with the
Conference of the Birds project, performing in each village and learning their
ancient rituals.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Brook saw a variety of his productions staged, both in
Europe and America. He directed The Cherry Orchard, first in Paris in 1981, then
later in New York in 1988. Other works during this time included Tchin, Tchin
(1984), Qui Est La (1996), and The Director Who (1996).
Qui Est La was staged in Paris and was a reinterpretation of Hamlet. Typically for
Brook, his choices were anything but traditional. At one point in the play, a
character delivered a speech in Japanese, which led James Fenton to observe in
The New York Review of Books (1996), "You are going to have to rely on your
memory now, and on your imagination, as much as on what you see and hear."
The play was not a complete Hamlet, as many might have hoped, but rather a
combination of Shakespeare and Brook's dialogue about theater. Of the
production, Fenton further observed, "What is tantalizing - frustrating even - is to
see suggested a whole production of Hamlet. only to have it whisked away again
as we return to the dialogue about theater."
Brook never relied on traditional approaches in his direction. Although his next
work, The Man Who (1996), met better critical acclaim than Qui Est La, it too
relied heavily on theory. Brook's objective with the play, as with many of his other
works, was to transcend what separates all people, whether culturally or
intellectually, and find a common language within the context of the play. In The
Man Who , he painted portraits of insanity, taken from the case studies of Oliver
Sacks, a psychiatrist whose work formed the basis for the opera The Man Who
Mistook His Wife for a Hat, as well as the film Awakenings (1991). In the play's
program notes Brook wrote, "For a long while, within our theater work, I have been
searching for a common ground that could involve the spectator directly.
whatever the social and national barriers, we all have a brain and we think we
know it." His experiment met much critical success when performed at the Brooklyn
Academy of Music in spring of 1996, though some reviewers didn't find the work
entirely gratifying. In The New Republic Robert Brustein wrote, "[Brook] persists
in seeking One Worldism through theater experiments The problem is that,
whatever Brook's prodigious theatrical gifts, playwrighting is not among them. The
piece grows tedious because it displays no dramatic progress."
This type of work was highly experimental in the world of theater and was not
accepted by all. Undeterred by opinion, Brook proceeded into exploration of this
little known area of the theater. He believed that traditional theater had lost its
meaning, and his journey was to learn about his own barriers and his own
deceptions and to face them. Essentially a theater scientist with an intellectual
approach to theater, he wanted to discover the soul. Brook had the courage to be
an innovator in the world of the theater.
Brook wrote an important book, The Empty Space (1968), and was the director of
over 60 productions, including an acclaimed production of Bizet's opera Carmen.
Further Reading on Peter Brook
In 1988 Brook published his autobiography, The Shifting Point. Peter Brook, A
Biography (1971) by J.C. Trewin is a thorough examination of Brook's work, and A
Midsummer Night's Dream. Directors' Theatre (1968) by Judith Cook includes a
short biography of the director. In 1996 several biographies were published,
including Peter Brook: Directors in Perspective, edited by Albert Hunt and Geoffrey
Reeves, as well as Into Brook's Rehearsal - And Beyond - An Actor Adrift, by Yoshi
Oida with Lorna Marshall. The following books are examinations of individual
productions or projects: Peter Brook's production of William Shakespeare's A
Midsummer Night's Dream (1974) by Glen Loney; The Making of A Midsummer
Night's Dream (1982) by David Selbourne; Orghast at Persepolis (1973) by
Anthony Smith; US: The Book of the Royal Shakespeare Production (1968) by
Peter Brook; and Conference of the Birds: the Story of Peter Brook in Africa (1977)
by John Herlpern. For insight into Brook's theories see his book The Empty Space