By then Mr. Brook, who took delight in “shaking up terrible, stultifying old conventions,” as he put it, had become a thoroughgoing iconoclast. Some mark that change at his 1960 Paris production of Jean Genet’s “The Balcony,” a work considered boldly subversive at the time. For Genet’s scenes of exotic life in a Paris brothel, Mr. Brook used striking-looking amateurs, found in Paris bars, as well as professional actors and dancers. But a radical revival of “King Lear,” staged for the Royal Shakespeare Company in London in 1962, was more significant.
Not only did Mr. Brook encourage Scofield to play the titanic hero of tradition as a painfully flawed human being, but just before the production’s opening, he threw out the set that he himself had designed, ensuring that the plot unfolded on a bare stage under plain lighting. The resulting epic unforgettably exposed the cruel absurdities of humanity.
Peter Brook, Celebrated Stage Director of Scale and Humanity, Dies at 97
He was called “the greatest innovator of his generation,” leaving an indelible mark with plays, musicals, opera and a relentless curiosity.
“There are three kinds of audiences [for Shakespeare]: a normal audience, an audience with Peter Brook in it, and you lot.”
— Patrick Stewart (former Royal Shakespeare Company member) speaking to the 18th International Conference of Shakespeare Scholars at Stratford-on-Avon