Peter Brook Returns To Shakespeare’s Infinity In Tempest Project

Peter Brook Returns To Shakespeare’s Infinity In Tempest Project

At 96, the maestro Peter Brook is happy to return to Barcelona to premiere in the city ‘Tempest Project’, a revision of Shakespeare’s last play, which he had already mounted beforein a different way. “You can never say to a piece of immense quality like Shakespeare’s: ‘Oh, I found it!’ It is stupid for anyone to claim to have seen a perfect ‘Hamlet’ performance.

Whoever thinks they have said the last word about the Interpretation of a work is not only an idiot, but a fascist and a criminal. One has to be respectful of the unknown, “he said this Wednesday in La Pedrera, where he offered a press conference that ended when he felt tired. Brook, who saves his energy as much as possible and is in a wheelchair, arrived in Barcelona from Montpellier, where he recently attended the presentation of this play that will be performed at the Teatre Lliure de Montjuïc on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The man who renewed the scene with works as unique as’ The Mahabharata ‘(1985), an Indian epic of twelve hours of theater with intermissions included, and who turned the Mercat de les Flors into a stage space for the first time with his montage’ La tragedia de Carmen ‘in 1983 has always sought to go to the essential, in life and in the theater.

Brook, whose curiosity has no limits, has developed his own style, unmistakable, full of poetry and depth. “Shakespeare is a mystery, you will never find the definitive version”, the author of many essays such as ‘The empty space’ (1968), ‘The quality of mercy’ (1995), a reflection on the forgiveness in Shakespeare’s plays, and ‘Actiendo by ear’ (2019), his most recent work, where he reflects on music and sound.

The magic of the void is perhaps one of the reasons why we wanted to ride this reduced ‘Tempest’

In his new project, perhaps his last Shakespeare, he returns to work with actors of different nationalities and cultures , although less than usual due to the pandemic that has hindered the mobility of veteran artists with whom he usually works. Even so, Prospero, the protagonist of ‘The Tempest’, is an actor trained in the tradition of British theater of African origin, Ery Nzaramba. Sylvain Levitte, Paula Luna, Fabio Maniglio, Luca Maniglio and Marilù Marini complete a fairly young cast.

“This version of ‘The Tempest’ arose from several workshops from which emerged a shorter, more accessible work and I hope it was just as moving,” said his faithful collaborator and co-director on this work, Marie-Hélène Estienne. “The magic of the void is perhaps one of the reasons we wanted to ride this reduced ‘Tempest’,” acknowledged Brook.

“I am interested in resonance, something difficult to explain but that can be experienced. Shakespeare is a great author and a poet, that is why each word has an obvious meaning. But in each sentence of Shakespeare there are things that are not explained,” he pointed out with a thread of voice this admired explorer of the theater, renovator of the genre in the twentieth century.

‘Tempest Project’ is like a drama lesson because it allows us to see Brook’s way of working, which he does not rule out going on stage at some point during the show. “The play speaks of the storm that each of the characters carries within and that must calm. But the main theme of the play is freedom.” A theme that resonates throughout the ages.

“This work is also a tribute to Jean-Claude Carrière”, Estienne acknowledged, remembering the actor and screenwriter who died last February, whom Brook encouraged to become a translator and playwright to work on the group’s texts when in the early 70’s they settled in the Bouffes du Nord theater in Paris.

They were looking for a “more accessible and lighter” language, something that he began to put into practice with ‘Timon of Athens’, a little known Shakespeare then. “The essential is always covered by what it is not. I saw translations considered as masterpieces that did not work for me. I wanted to purify them, so I encouraged Carrière to take another way to make them simpler,” said Brook.

Among all that has changed in the theater thanks to him, if he is proud of something, it is to “support young people.” “There are them everywhere and they make use of other installation forms and new ways of understanding theater. My daughter Irina, for example, but also other actors who are now in the company such as the Mexican Héctor Flores or Alexander Zeldin, who was my assistant “.

And he added: “If I ever feel proud of something, it is when I get in the shower and shake off all the weight of arrogance,” said the director, whose last work seen in Barcelona was a version of ‘La fluuta Magica ‘(‘ Une flûte enchantée ‘), by Mozart, in 2011, at the Mercat.

For someone who started doing Shakespeare theater at home at age 8 with a little theater whose figures he had cut out himself, continuing to rediscover the classics after almost a century of life is quite an event.

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