Laureates 2005

2005 Present - The Performing Arts: Film, Theater, Dance, Music

Peter Brook

PeterBrookPeter Brook, born in London, on March 21, 1925 , is currently the Director of the International Center for Theatre Creations in Paris, France.

Peter Brook is one of the giants of contemporary theatre. A unique creative genius who, through his groundbreaking productions, has reinvented the way actors and directors think about theatre. Throughout his career, his work has been gratefully acclaimed in theatre, opera, film and writing.


The goal in his theatre work is "reconciliation." In his own words: "The mere fact that you can in the theatre show two opposing points of view and the audience, just by watching these two, is in a way sympathizing and following them does reconcile. The act of playing something out, a great conflict, is reconciled by the event itself." The statement reflects Brook's sense of justice and democracy, as well as his belief that theatre may not offer A truth, but can present "a moment of truth.when everyone at that moment is touched in the same way."

Brook the philosopher has put energy and genius into his search for a theatre that was simple and subtle, direct, and sophisticated, simultaneously popular and rich in levels of meaning. He has been an active force in reshaping the style and thinking of the theatre of the second half of the 20th century. Brook has brought an approach of constructive revolution to theater, showing how to break away from the "deadly," banal theater into an experience that is shared by actors and spectators in the deepest sense of the word. Peter Brook has tremendously influenced generations of directors and actors. His concepts of "deadly, holy, rough and immediate" theaters have become classic concepts in the analysis of theatrical work. The paradoxically unifying theme of his work has been its unpredictability. To quote one of his many wonderful observations "Not knowing is not resignation. It is an opening to amazement."

Story telling and its relation to ethnic cultures have always been of interest to Brook and he writes in many of his books about the importance of his travels to Persia, Africa and India. His continuous dedication to search for new meanings took him to discover in multiculturalism a symbol of universal communication. He traveled repeatedly to Asia and Africa to understand their cultural, non-western, traditions, to reach local audiences, and to make a bridge to unite the divided through the power of theatre communication. But it is his love of Shakespeare, who has always been his model that is at the heart of his work, in which the universal values of theatre are refreshed and reinvented for our time.

After more than 40 years in the theatre, Peter Brook, has still, even today, the iconoclastic approach and the belief in the value of art in all cultures. More than any other artist working in the theatre today, Brook has challenged conventional concepts and in the process he has influenced several generations of theatre performers and changed the mentality of the audience everywhere. Through his groundbreaking productions he has had a huge impact over theatre people and theatre goers around the world.

Biographical Notes:

In the 1940s, when he was only in his twenties, Peter Brook had already attained the status of one of the foremost British directors. At that time he introduced the plays of Jean Cocteau and Jean-Paul Sartre to England and directed in Stratford upon Avon classic plays such as Love's Labour's Lost (1946) and Romeo and Juliet (1947). In the 1950s and early 1960s, he co-directed the Royal Shakespeare Company, directing there Titus Andronicus (1955), The Tempest (1957), King Lear (1962) and, later, A Midsummer Night's Dream (1970). He served as director of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London (1947-50). Throughout the 1950s and 1960s the plays he directed were staged in the best London theatre houses: National, Globe, Donmar, Lyric, Arts, Ambassador's, Haymarket, Aldwych, New, Phoenix, and Comedy. In that period he also directed two operas at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and made six films

Brook was inspired by the experimental theories of German dramatist Bertolt Brecht, Russian director Vsevolod Meyerhold, and Polish director Jerzy Grotowski, among others, in addition to the theater-of-cruelty concept of French writer and actor Antonin Artaud.

He began working with the Paris-based Le Centre International de Creations Theatrales in 1971, staging 25 productions in over 30 years, mostly at the Bouffes du Nord theatre house. Doing so, he attracted numerous actors from all parts of the globe, forming an international company. In parallel, he made 4 more films and directed the opera Don Giovanni for the 50th Festival International d'Art Lyrique in Aix-en-Provence.

Peter Brook staged Carmen and the Man Who at the Jerusalem Festival, where he was a guest of honor. Over many years he has maintained frequent contact with Israeli directors, actors, academics, and intellectuals.

Peter Brook has published a number of books and an autobiography in English (1998) and in French (2003). His most well known book, the Empty Space, was published in 1968 and has since been translated into 15 languages. A number of biographies have been written about him, authored by J. C. Trewin (1971), A. Hunt and G. Reeves (1995) and a forthcoming one by M. Kustow (2005).