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Theater legend Peter Brook dies aged 97

/ 11:54 AM July 04, 2022
Peter Brook

In this file photo taken on Feb. 27, 2018, British theater and film director, playwright and actor Peter Brook poses during a photo session at the Bouffes du Nord theatre in Paris. – British theatre and film director, playwright and actor Peter Brook has died aged 97, AFP reports on July 3, 2022. Image: AFP/Lionel Bonaventure

The France-based British theater director Peter Brook, who revolutionized the stage with radical interpretations of the classics before returning drama to its simplest roots, has died aged 97, a source said Sunday.

Brook, born in the United Kingdom but resident in France for decades, died on Saturday, a source close to the director, who asked not to be named, told Agence France-Presse.

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He also won renown for his iconic 1963 film version of the novel “Lord of the Flies” about schoolboys who are marooned on an island and descend into savagery.

Brook rose to fame in the U.K. as a young director who put a radical, and sometimes bloody, spin on classics including the works of Shakespeare, working with actors who would later become themselves legends.

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But his methods underwent a gradual transformation after he moved to France in the early 1970s, reducing theater to pure simplicity and often influenced by eastern traditions.

A statement from French President Emmanuel Macron’s office he and his wife saluted “an extraordinary director who extracted the quintessence of theater and pushed it beyond its three walls.”

“Peter Brook gave us the most beautiful silences in the theater, but this last silence is infinitely sad,” French Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak on Twitter.

“With him, the stage was stripped back to its most alive intensity. He bequeathed so much to us,” she added, saying he would remain “forever the soul” of the Bouffes du Nord theatre in northern Paris where his work was based.

“Sad news,” wrote actor Adrian Lester, who played the title role on a Brook production of Hamlet.

“The man was a giant in our field. Asking bold questions and rigorously refusing to settle for mediocrity,” he wrote on Twitter. “His influence changed everything about western theater, even the design of some of our buildings.”

Simon McBurney, founder and artistic director of London’s Theatre de Complicite which has been highly influenced by the methods of Brook, hailed him on Twitter as a “visionary, provocateur, prophet, trickster and friend.” AP/JB

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TAGS: Directors, Lord of the Flies, obituaries, Theater, William Shakespeare
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