The Open Circle: Peter Brook's Theatre Environments (Relié)
de Andrew Todd, Jean-Guy Lecat
Theater designers Todd and Lecat explain the innovative British director Peter Brook's approach to performance space in this meticulously detailed book. Brook's stage designs are based on a collaborative philosophy that first found expression in 1974, when his company rehabilitated its home theater, the Bouffes du Nord in Paris. The group erased the traditional division between actors and audience by removing the usual proscenium stage and replacing it with a platform that juts out into the audience. The seating was then rearranged so that the spectators surround the performers on three sides, forming an "open circle." The company went to such trouble transforming the Bouffes because, in Brook's view, the right theater design is as crucial to a production as the actors, sets or costumes are. A longtime Brook collaborator, Lecat offers impressive insight into how the company selected and renovated international touring spaces for works such as the opera La Tragedie de Carmen and the 10-hour epic The Mahabharata. Interestingly, the authors illustrate that modern theaters offered some of the least satisfying locations; the best frequently were "found" spaces, including warehouses in Barcelona and Hamburg, quarries in Athens and Adelaide, a Lisbon cloister, a Zurich boathouse and an Arles rice silo. A guide to productions and venues, architectural drawings and photos of spaces before and after Brook's transformations complete the book, although some photos are too minuscule to make much impact. While some of the volume's sections could have been trimmed, and the lengthy quotes from Brook and other artists could have been enmeshed into the text more gracefully, this book will be appreciated by theatergoers, designers and readers knowledgeable about Brook's work and interested in its technical details. Photos and illustrations.
Peter Brook is one of the world's great theater directors. Responsible for historic productions of Midsummer Night's Dream, Marat/Sade, The Mahabarata, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and The Cherry Orchard, Brooks's main concern has always been the space occupied by both the actors and the audience. In this beautifully illustrated book, Andrew Todd and Jean Guy Lecat explore the evolution of Brooks's productions and his theories of theater design. They look at his work in the early days of the Royal Shakespeare Company and his fascinating white box Dream as well as his madhouse production of Marat/Sade. They explore in detail his Theatre Bouffe du Nord in Paris where he staged The Mahabarata and the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Harvey Theater where he first staged it in the US. This is a book that every serious theatergoer will want on his shelf.