OVERRIDE

Peter Brook

A Biography

Michael Kustow

St. Martin's Press

Peter Brook is one of the world's legendary theater directors. His productions are a byword for imagination, energy, and innovation. From his ground-breaking production of Marat/Sade, to his "white box" A Midsummer Night's Dream, to his monumental staging of The Mahabharata and beyond, Brook has always been the pioneer of what a director and a company of actors can conjure out of an empty stage. In this first authoritative biography, arising out of an association and friendship with Brook over forty years, Michael Kustow tells the fascinating and revealing story of a man whose life has been a never-ending quest.

Born into a Russian émigré family in London, Brook has been fascinated by theater and film since childhood. He studied at Oxford, where he made a film of Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey and was almost sent down during his turbulent undergraduate years. As a brilliant young man influenced by the theatrical visionary Gordon Craig, he turned his hand to Shakespeare, opera, new French drama, and mainstream comedy. Following Craig's philosophy, Brook began to search for a simplicity, harmony, and beauty that would incorporate all aspects of the stage production under the control of one person. He also began the lifelong search for authenticity on the stage, a search that led him around the world from London to New York, to his legendary Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris, to Broadway and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. It was in Paris, in the 1970s, that he attempted to discover a universal language of theater with an international group of actors. This collaboration resulted in a series of visually spectacular and innovative shows including The Ik, The Conference of the Birds, and The Mahabharata.

In his long and influential career, he worked with some of the world's greatest actors and writers including Glenda Jackson, Paul Scofield, John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, Irene Worth, Jeanne Moreau, Peter Weiss, and Truman Capote. His films, such as Lord of the Flies, Moderato Cantabile, King Lear (with Paul Scofield), The Beggar's Opera, and the film of Marat/Sade moved the camera and the screen to borders they had not reached before. His book The Empty Space continues to be one of the classic works on theater and drama in the Western canon and his memoir, Threads of Time, gave us a glimpse into his personal development. In this biography, based on extensive interviews with Peter Brook and many of the actors, writers, producers, and directors he's worked with throughout his life, Michael Kustow goes to the heart of Brook's theater, his self-searching and his unceasing desire to produce work that redefines theater and life.

REVIEWS

Praise for Peter Brook

Praise for Peter Brook

"As an actor I have found Peter Brook to have an extraordinarily concentrated and penetrating understanding of the emotional and practical requirements demanded by the needs of authors and actors. Michael Kustow's book seems to me a masterly study of a special man of the theatre. I have worked with Peter closely and often, and there is much in this account of his life and his work which is quite new to me."
- Paul Scofield

"A bountifully detailed record of Brook's marvelously driven life, expertly charted, and described in devotion. Kustow's work combines the meticulous attention of a vastly informed biography with an increasingly personal astonishment at his subject's unending processes of self-transformation. In essence the book is a heart-felt validation of one of the world's enchanted obsessives: a greatly compelled and compelling Artificer, in life long thrall to the unceasing imperatives of new creation. It is a wonderous story."
- Peter Shaffer

"Peter Brook has been an inspiration and a challenge to all of us who work in the theatre. He's a giant. He's one of the greatest innovators in the last half of the twentieth century. Michael Kustow's book is fascinating, brilliant, thorough and entertaining. I will treasure it."
- Andre Gregory, director, My Dinner with Andre and Vanya on 42nd St.

"I cannot imagine anyone interested in theater (or remarkable men) not enjoying this book. Michael Kustow has written a compulsively readable account of Peter Brook's extraordinary (and continuing) life's journey: balanced, incisive and truly inspirational."
- Harvey Lichenstein

"Michael Kustow's absorbing biography of Peter Brook illuminates the life and creative achievements of one of the greatest and most influential stage directors in theatre history. Enriched by theatrical insights and copious research, Kustow provides a wealth of details about Brook's groundbreaking productions, such as Marat/Sade, Midsummer Night's Dream, Conference of the Birds, Mahabharata, and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, as well as broadening our understanding of Brook's profound book on the theatrical avant-garde, The Empty Space."
- David Krasner, Yale University

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Michael Kustow

  • Michael Kustow is a theater and film producer as well as a journalist and theater critic. He is the author of Theatre@risk and Tank: An Autobiographical Fiction. He lives in London.
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Available Formats and Book Details

Peter Brook

A Biography

Michael Kustow

  • e-Book

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

St. Martin's Press

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