Peter Brook to Bring the Mahabharata to BAM in BATTLEFIELD This Fall

With Battlefield, Peter Brook and his internationally renowned team -- Marie-Hélène Estienne and Jean-Claude Carrière -- revisit the great Indian epic the Mahabharata 30 years after Brook's legendary production captivated the theater world-and inaugurated the BAM Majestic Theater (now the BAM Harvey Theater).

While the nine-hour original was as expansive and immersive as its source material, Battlefield-at just over an hour-is a minimalist theatrical consideration of "the bitter taste of defeat" (Brook) embedded in military victories that often come at an incomprehensible cost. Featuring four actors and one drummer, the play focuses on Prince Yudishtira as he grapples with the central question of how to live with himself in light of the devastation and massacres that he and his brothers have caused. His search for inner peace and the path to great leadership raises life's most urgent questions. The richness of the Mahabharata's language and its astonishing stories allow those questions to be explored on stage with powerful and elegant simplicity. Lauded as "luminous and potent" (The Independent), Battlefield's examination of a world grappling with the effects of extreme violence feels simultaneously topical and timeless.

Battlefield made its world premiere at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord (Paris) in the fall of 2015 and was presented in Singapore, Tokyo, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Rome, Madrid, and at London's Young Vic Theatre in February, 2016, where The Telegraph said "[Brook] achieves rare magic, and with the slenderest art."


US Premiere
C.I.C.T.-Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
Based on the Mahabharata and the play written by Jean-Claude Carrière
Adapted and directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne

Music by Toshi Tsuchitori
Costume design by Oria Puppo
Lighting design by Philippe Vialatte

BAM Harvey Theater (651 Fulton St)
Sep 28-Oct 1; Oct 4-9 at 7:30pm; Oct 1, 8 & 9 at 2pm; Oct 2 at 3pm
Opens Oct 1 (press previews on Sept 29 and 30)
Tickets start at $30

For ticket information, call BAM Ticket Services at 718.636.4100, or visit

Additional Events:

Post-Show Discussion with Peter Brook

Oct 6 (free for same-day Battlefield ticket holders)

Roundtable with Peter Brook and Marie He?le?ne Estienne

For emerging directors. Free, by application only. For information, visit

Oct 7 at 2pm at BAM Attic Studio

Participatory Reading of The Mahabharata

Sep 30 at 12pm at BAM FisheR Lower Lobby (321 Ashland Pl) Free

The Mahabharata: Reimagining the Majestic Theater

An exhibition presented by the BAM Hamm Archives
Sep-Dec, BAM Harvey Theater (Campbell Lobby)

Following BAM's US premiere engagement of Battlefield, BAMcinématek presents Peter Brook: Behind the Camera, from Monday, Oct 10 through Thursday, Oct 20. The nine-film retrospective highlights Brook's work for the screen, shedding light on films that bring renewed life to an array of great literary works.

The series opens with Brook in attendance to introduce The Mahabharata (1989-Oct 10), an epic film adaptation of his stage masterpiece. The 325-minute film is based on the longest known epic poem, originally in Sanskrit, and depicts the events and characters of the Kurukshetra War. Stephen Holden of the New York Times wrote, "The Mahabharata is an allegory with strong utopian overtones of colliding world cultures and political philosophies in which civilization rises, falls and is reborn."

Peter Brook: Behind the Camera will include the first US theatrical run of the digitally restored Tell Me Lies (1968-Oct 14-20). The film is adapted from Denis Cannan's play US and stars members of the Royal Shakespeare Company. With a story grounded in the sordid politics of the Vietnam War, it was mired in controversy but applauded at the Venice Film Festival where it received a special mention from the Jury and was awarded the Luis Bun?uel prize. Brook made his filmmaking debut with The Beggar's Opera (1953-Oct 11), starring screen legend Laurence Olivier in his only film musical. Based on the Marguerite Duras novel, Brook's Moderato cantabile (1960-Oct 12) screened at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the great Jeanne Moreau the Best Actress award. In yet another showcase for outstanding acting, the BAFTA-nominated Swann in Love (1984-Oct 17) stars Jeremy Irons in a screenplay adapted from the Proust novel by Brook, with Marie-He?le?ne Estienne, Jean-Claude Carrie?re, and its director Volker Schlo?ndorff. The series also includes a new digital restoration of Meetings with Remarkable Men (1979-Oct 13), based on the book of the same name by Greek-Armenian mystic, G. I. Gurdjieff; and Marat/Sade (1967, Oct 16), adapted from Brook's theater production of the play by Peter Weiss.

Perhaps the most notable of Brook's literary adaptations is Lord of the Flies (1963-Oct 15). Using a cast of school boys, Brook successfully portrays William Golding's vision of civilization breaking down in the absence of adult supervision. Brook took on the Bard with King Lear (1971-Oct 18), which the British Film Institute called "arguably Brook's finest accomplishment within the British cinema."

Peter Brook was born in London in 1925 and has achieved distinction throughout his career in the disciplines of theater, opera, film, and writing. Brook has become identified with a pared- down, minimalist style in which the audience is returned to a raw and unmediated encounter with the power of the performing art. He has directed more than 70 productions in London, Paris, and New York. Brook's work with the Royal Shakespeare Company includes Love's Labour's Lost (1946), Measure for Measure (1950), Titus Andronicus (1955), King Lear (1962), Marat/Sade (1964), US (1966), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1970), and Antony and Cleopatra (1978). In 1971, he co-founded the International Centre for Theatre Research (C.I.R.T) in Paris with Micheline Rozan and in 1974 he established its permanent base at the The?a?tre des Bouffes du Nord. There he directed Timon of Athens, The Iks, Ubu aux Bouffes, Conference of the Birds, L'Os, The Cherry Orchard, The Mahabharata, Woza Albert!, The Tempest, The Man Who, Qui est la?, Happy Days, Je Suis un Phe?nome?ne Le Costume, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Far Away, Le Mort de Krishna, Ta Main dans la Mienne, The Grand Inquisitor, Tierno Bokar, Sizwe Banzi, Fragments, Warum Warum, Love is my Sin, 11 and 12, The Suit, Valley of Astonishment, and the opera Une Flute Enchante?e. Brook directed the operas La Bohe?me, Boris Godunov, The Olympians, Salome?, and Le Nozze de Figaro at Covent Garden; Faust and Eugene Onegin at The Metropolitan Opera; La Trage?die de Carmen and Impressions of Pelleas at the Bouffes du Nord; and Don Giovanni at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. Brook won four Tony Awards, for direction of The Visit (1959), Irma La Douce (1961), Marat/Sade (1966), and A Midsummer Night's Dream (1971).

Brook's history with BAM began with his highly influential production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (1971 Spring Season) and continued with the historic The Mahabharata (1987 Next Wave), The Cherry Orchard (1988 Spring Season), The Man Who (1995 Spring Season), and The Tragedy of Hamlet (2001 Spring Season). Brook helped restage The Island (2003 Spring Season) and was most recently at BAM directing Can Themba's play about adultery in the apartheid era, The Suit (2013 Winter/Spring), about which The New York Times wrote: "The sadness will linger, but so will an elating sense of this show's enfolding magic."

In addition to directing theater and film, Brook wrote screenplays and a memoir, Threads of Time, in 1998. He authored The Empty Space (1968), translated into over 15 languages; The Shifting Point, There Are No Secrets, The Open Door, Evoking (and Forgetting Shakespeare), With Grotowski, and his most recent book The Quality of Mercy, about Shakespeare. Brook founded the Oxford University Film Society in London, where he received his Master of Arts degree.

Marie-He?le?ne Estienne worked with Peter Brook in 1974 on the casting for Timon of Athens, and consequently joined the Centre International de Cre?ations The?a?trales (C.I.C.T.) for the creation of Ubu aux Bouffes in 1977. She was Peter Brook's assistant on La trage?die de Carmen, The Mahabharata, and collaborated on the staging of The Tempest, Impressions de Pelle?as, Woza Albert!, and La trage?die d'Hamlet (2000). With Brook, she co-authored The Man Who and Je suis un phe?nome?ne shown at the The?a?tre des Bouffes du Nord. She wrote the French adaptation of Can Themba's play The Suit, and Sizwe Banzi Is Dead, by authors Athol Fugard, John Kani, and Winston Ntshona. In 2003 she wrote the French and English adaptations of The Grand Inquisitor based on Dostoyevsky's Brothers Karamazov. She was the author of Tierno Bokar in 2005, and of the English adaptation of Eleven and Twelve by Amadou Hampate? Ba in 2009. With Brook, Estienne co-directed Fragments, five short pieces by Beckett, and with Brook and composer Franck Krawczyk she freely adapted Mozart and Schikaneder's The Magic Flute. She shared in the creation of The Suit in 2012 and The Valley of Astonishment in 2013.

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