Peter Brook – statement from the Royal Shakespeare Company on the death of Peter Brook

Peter Brook – statement from the Royal Shakespeare Company on the death of Peter Brook

Peter Brook c.late 1940s/early1950s

We were deeply saddened to hear today of the passing of visionary director and RSC Honorary Associate Artist, Peter Brook

Peter was a giant of European theatre, who breathed exhilarating new life into the art form. His influence at the Royal Shakespeare Company cannot be overestimated, with more than 20 years of artistry and experiment, including the remarkable US, a daring response to the Vietnam war which premiered at the Aldwych in 1966 with a cast including Glenda Jackson.

In 1970 he directed the truly revolutionary A Midsummer Night’s Dream, designed by Sally Jacobs, and with a cast including Frances de la Tour, Ben Kingsley and Patrick Stewart. This production completely reset what it meant to bring Shakespeare alive for a contemporary audience, and continues to exert a serious influence on theatre artists today. 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1970: Puck, Titania and Oberon

Erica Whyman, RSC Acting Artistic Director, said, “I was privileged to get to know Peter in the 1990s at the National Theatre Studio where he generously shared his practice with younger theatre-makers, and later when I presented his work at Northern Stage. He was a mesmerising person, fascinated by the potential of human beings to communicate the most delicate feelings and thoughts to one another, by respecting the commanding simplicity of an ‘empty space’ ”.

Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director Emeritus, added ‘When Peter was last in Stratford in February 2019, he generously agreed to come and talk to the acting company. At 94, he still conveyed the boundless curiosity which has characterised his career. From the Watteau-inspired Love’s Labour’s Lost in Stratford in 1947, to the ground-breaking Titus Andronicus with Olivier in 1955, from the Theatre of Cruelty Season to the legendary A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1970, from the Marat/Sade to The MahabharataPeter defined the essential. We ‘shall not look upon his like again’ ”.

Peter’s decades of captivating work at Les Bouffes Du Nord emerged from the explorations he was undertaking at the RSC. His influence will never be forgotten and his spirit will be sorely missed.