Announcing PETER BROOK/NY, A Citywide Recognition Of A Theater Icon
Today a consortium of New York City cultural, educational, and media institutions announce Peter Brook/NY (Karen Brooks Hopkins, Executive Producer), a citywide recognition of Brook's work and his collaborations with Marie-Hélène Estienne from 1953 to the present. In addition to the U.S. Premiere of Brook and Estienne's Why? which Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA) presents September 21 - October 6 at Polonsky Shakespeare Center, Peter Brook/NY features programing from BAM, The Center for Fiction, Columbia University, French Institute Alliance Française's Crossing the Line Festival, Hunter College, The Juilliard School, TFANA, and WNET. A booklet produced by BAM Hamm Archives-featuring historic photographs, a timeline of Brook's productions and New York presence, an essay by writer Violaine Huisman, and information about Peter Brook/NY events-will be available to all attendees and online at BAM.org and TFANA.org.
Karen Brooks Hopkins, Executive Producer of Peter Brook/NY, says, "As a graduate student in the late '70s, I had the privilege of seeing my first production directed by Peter Brook. The impact was profound. Simply put, Brook is perhaps the greatest theatre maker of our time. His work is creative, empathic, and powerful. I am so proud that BAM, where I worked for 36 years, and Theatre for a New Audience, became his artistic homes in New York. It's especially thrilling to join forces with Jeffrey Horowitz, the TFANA team, and all of the exceptional partners for Peter Brook/NY, an ambitious citywide recognition of the extensive career of this legendary artist, made possible by generous donors who share our reverence for one of the world's master storytellers."
Why? is the latest result of a prolific and acclaimed four-decade collaboration between Brook and Estienne. It is the sixth work staged by Brook or Brook and Estienne to be presented by TFANA including The Prisoner, The Valley of the Astonishment, Samuel Beckett's Fragments, Love is My Sin, based on Shakespeare's Sonnets, and The Grand Inquisitor, based on Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov.
Jeffrey Horowitz, Founding Artistic Director of Theatre for a New Audience, says, "It's truly exciting to begin TFANA's 40th Season with Why? and to be part of Peter Brook/NY partnering with Karen Brooks Hopkins, TFANA's neighbors BAM and Center for Fiction, and other extraordinary New York cultural and educational institutions. The art of Peter Brook and his collaborations with Marie-Hélène Estienne-no matter what form-are about our humanity. This is inspiring and always contemporary. Today, when freedom of expression and freedom of imagination are threatened, the stories in Why? have a powerful resonance."
Why? takes us on a journey and asks why do artists practice theatre? What is theatre for? What is it about? The production highlights the stories of Zinaida Raikh, the eminent Russian actor who was married to Vsevolod Meyerhold, one of the most innovative directors the theatre has known. Both were brutally executed by Stalin who condemned their art as anti-Soviet.
Why? features Hayley Carmichael (TFANA: C.I.T.C./Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord's The Prisoner and Fragments; The Young Vic's Sweet Nothings), Kathryn Hunter (TFANA: The Emperor, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Young Vic's Kafka's Monkey, C.I.T.C./Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord's The Valley of Astonishment), Marcello Magni (TFANA: Marcel + The Art of Laughter, C.I.T.C./Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord's Fragments and The Valley of Astonishment), and Laurie Blundell (pianist). The creative team includes Philippe Vialatte (Lighting) and Franck Krawczyk (Music).
When it premiered in Paris at C.I.T.C./Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, Libération hailed Why? as a "masterful demonstration" of Brook's career-long pursuit of a theatrical form "clear of all artifice," with three actors on a near-bare stage, "achieving a simplicity that seems like an incomparable feat." L'Echo wrote that the work "approaches the essence of theatre, in at once showing us its beauty and its inner-workings," and L'Humanité said Why?, "carried by three tremendous actors-Hayley Carmichael, Kathryn Hunter, and Marcello Magni-is a poetic and political act of breathtaking power and simplicity.
Support for the production of Why? is provided by the Trust for Mutual Understanding, the French Institute/Alliance Française, and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States.
Why? is presented as part of the by the French Institute Alliance Française's (FIAF) Crossing the Line Festival.
What follows is more information about Peter Brook/NY activities confirmed to date.
Peter Brook/NY Events
Why? (U.S. Premiere)
Written and Directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne
Featuring Hayley Carmichael, Kathryn Hunter and Marcello Magni
Presented by Theatre for a New Audience
September 21-October 6, 2019 (opening September 26)
Polonsky Shakespeare Center (262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn)
Tickets, starting at $20, at www.tfana.org, 866.811.4111, and the Polonsky Shakespeare Center box office
"Why theatre? What is it for? What is it about? Why? takes the audience on a journey that is both dramatic and joyful. Why? allows us to discover that we are not alone in asking these questions and that many great theatre practitioners have been inspired to explore these questions. 'Theatre is a very dangerous weapon.' These words were written in the 1920s by one of the most creative and innovative directors the theatre has known: Vsevold Meyerhold. Meyerhold saw the menacing dangers that the theatre, and art in general, were facing in 1930s Russia; he saw the writing on the wall. This did not deter him in his work as he held on to the hope that the revolution could win." -Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne, Paris 2019
Why? received its world premiere at C.I.C.T/Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris, France on June 19, 2019. The project was co-commissioned by C.I.C.T./Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord; Theatre for a New Audience; Grotowski Institute in Wroclaw, National Performing Arts Center; Taiwan R.O.C. - National Taichung Theater; Centro Dramatico Nacional, Madrid; Teatro Dimitri, Verscio; Théâtre Firmin Gérmier, La Piscine.
Support for the production of Why? is provided by the Trust for Mutual Understanding, the French Institute Alliance Française, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, and many generous donors to Theatre for a New Audience.
The production is part of the Crossing the Line Festival organized by the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), as well as Brooklyn Falls for France, a cultural season organized by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and FACE Foundation in partnership with Brooklyn venues.
Workshop with Students from Hunter College
Friday, September 27
Hunter College Department of Theatre (Gregory Mosher, Patty and Jay Baker Chair) hosts a three-hour workshop with Peter Brook. This event is not open to the public.
45-minute post-performance discussions following Saturday matinees of Why? at Polonsky Shakespeare Center. TFANA Talks are free and open to the public.
Saturday, September 28 at 3:45 PM
Anatoly Smeliansky, President, Moscow Art Theatre School and Associate Artistic Director, Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre will join Peter Brook to discuss the legacy of Zinaida Raikh and Vsevolod Meyerhold.
Saturday, October 5 at 3:45 PM
Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne in conversation.
WNET's ALL ARTS programming
Sunday, September 29
ALL ARTS presents a night of Peter Brook programming in recognition of the prolific director's work. The program block includes the ALL ARTS Big Event on the evening of Sunday, September 29, kicking off at 8pm with a 1967 interview from the WNET archives featuring Peter Brook with theatre critic Elliot Norton in discussion about Brook's career and his interest in Shakespeare. It's followed at 8:30pm by the US premiere of Peter Brook: A Filmed Workshop, which shows Brook instructing French theatre students in acting techniques and imparting wisdom for life beyond the stage. At 10pm, ALL ARTS will air Lord of The Flies, the classic 1963 film directed by Brook. ALL ARTS will also broadcast a new interview with Peter Brook fifty-two years after his discussion with Elliot Norton, at a date to be determined.
Workshop with Students from The Juilliard School
Monday, September 30
Peter Brook will work with a selection of singers from Juilliard's Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts and actors from its Drama Division in a two-hour, multi-disciplinary rehearsal session. This event is not open to the public.
TFANA Young Directors' Workshop
Tuesday, October 1
During the run of Why? at Polonsky Shakespeare Center, Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne will lead a workshop with an invited group of some of the most promising young directors working today. This workshop will be a rare opportunity for participants to engage in constructive discussion with the legendary director, and to gain perspective on their own work by discussing their ideas and the challenges they face with the group. This event is not open to the public.
The Center for Fiction Film and Storytelling Events with Peter Brook and special guests
Wednesday, October 2 and Friday, October 4
On Wednesday, Oct 2, at a special event introduced by Peter Brook/NY Executive Producer Karen Brooks Hopkins, clips from The Mahabharata-the film version of the Hindu epic directed by Peter Brook-will illuminate a discussion with the director about his original 1985 stage play of the same name. On Friday, Oct 4 three writers and artists, including Paul Auster and others TBC, will consider Peter Brook as one of the century's greatest and most innovative storytellers and speak about their experience of his work on stage, on screen, or on the page, after which Brook will join them for a conversation.
Talk with Peter Brook & Screening of Marat/Sade at BAM Rose Cinemas
Thursday, October 3
7pm (conversation, followed by screening)
BAM hosts a special screening of Marat/Sade, Brook's film adaptation of Peter Weiss' play which originated from his 1964 theatrical production with the Royal Shakespeare Company. In a pre-screening conversation, Brook will address with theater director Anne Bogart the way he translated his legendary production from the stage to the screen and the influence of Brecht and Artaud in his intense, profound, and provocative exploration of human nature. In addition, a featured collection of all of Brook's work at BAM will available to explore in the Leon Levy BAM digital archive. Visit BAM.org for tickets (on sale Aug 20).
Closing Dinner Hosted by Columbia University
Sunday, October 6
In 2005, a year-long Columbia University School of the Arts Peter Brook residency culminated in the U.S. premiere of Tierno Bokar, a theatrical exploration of the life of the 20th century Muslim spiritual leader. In recognition of that production and its former School of the Arts Theater Professor Andrei Serban's long relationship with Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne, TFANA will make tickets to Why? available to Columbia theatre students, and Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger will host a dinner in Brook's honor after the final performance of Why?. Guests will include Peter Brook, Marie-Hélène Estienne, the company of the play, and invited donors, friends, presenters/producers in the theatrical community. This event is not open to the public.
About Peter Brook
Peter Brook was born in London in 1925. Throughout his career, he distinguished himself in various genres: theatre, opera, cinema and writing. He directed his first play there in 1943. He then went on to direct over 70 productions in London, Paris, and New York. In 1971, he founded the International Centre for Theatre Research in Paris with Micheline Rozan, and in 1974, opened its permanent base in the Bouffes du Nord Theatre. Most recently, he has directed The Suit (2012), The Valley of Astonishment (2014), Battlefield (2015), and The Prisoner (2018).
About Marie-Hélène Estienne
Marie-Hélène Estienne joined the CICT in 1976 - and since then has never left. From press secretary to Peter Brook's assistant, she has worked on many shows including casting the pieces. In time, she became Peter Brook's collaborator, adapting texts, writing alone or with him and finally participating in the staging of the shows. Their recent work includes The Suit, The Valley of Astonishment, and The Prisoner.
About Theatre for a New Audience
Founded in 1979 by Jeffrey Horowitz, Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA) is a modern classic theatre. It produces Shakespeare alongside other authors such as Harley Granville Barker, Samuel Beckett, Edward Bond, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Adrienne Kennedy, Richard Maxwell, Richard Nelson, Wallace Shawn and TFANA has played Off- and on Broadway and toured nationally and internationally.
In 2001, Theatre for a New Audience became the first American theatre invited to bring a production of Shakespeare to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), Stratford-upon-Avon. Cymbeline, directed by Bartlett Sher, premiered at the RSC; in 2007, TFANA was invited to return to the RSC with The Merchant of Venice, directed by Darko Tresnjak and featuring F. Murray Abraham. In 2011, Mr. Abraham reprised his role as Shylock for a national tour.
After 34 years of being itinerant and playing mostly in Manhattan, Theatre for a New Audience moved to Brooklyn and opened its first permanent home, Polonsky Shakespeare Center, in October 2013. Built by The City of New York in partnership with Theatre for a New Audience, and located in the Brooklyn Cultural District, Polonsky Shakespeare Center was designed by Hugh Hardy and H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture with theatre consultants Akustiks, Milton Glaser, Jean-Guy Lecat, and Theatre Projects. Housed inside the building are the Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage (299 seats)-the first stage built for Shakespeare and classical drama in New York City since Lincoln Center's 1965 Vivian Beaumont-and the Theodore C. Rogers Studio (50 seats).
TFANA's productions have been honored with Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, Drama League, Callaway, Lortel and Audelco awards and nominations and reach an audience diverse in age, economics and cultural background.
Theatre for a New Audience created and runs the largest in-depth program in the New York City Public Schools to introduce students to Shakespeare and has served over 130,000 students since the program began in 1984. TFANA's New Deal ticket program is one of the lowest reserved ticket prices for youth in the city: $20 for any show, any time for those 30 years old and under or for full-time students of any age.