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Peter Brook died. He gave theatre the ability to be universal

It was announced today that the great theatre innovator Peter Brook has died. He was 97 years old. In those years, he became one of the world's most influential directors and theatre innovators. He sought world-wide stories and told them through actors who were already as diverse as the stories he told.

I have been to his theatre a few times, near the Gare du Nord in Paris. Les Bouffes du Nord is - hopefully for a long time to come - at once a monument to the decay of the 19th-century boulevard theatre for which Paris was famous, as seen in the famous film Les Enfants du Paradis, and a rethinking of that decay but also an empty space that can be filled in a different way every night.

The revolution that Peter Brook caused came in a very thin book called 'The Empty Space', in which, still young and ambitious at the time, he fed into the feeling that existing theatre was outdated and sleepy. He created happenings, situations in which actors and audience melted, in which the story and the storyteller were central.

In 2014, I was in Paris with two colleagues (NRC and Parool) to see one of his (now known) last performances. The report of that conversation can be found below. The recording of that conversation is also available via anchor and spotify.

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Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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