Peter Brook, the acclaimed, multiple award-winning stage and film director whose work spanned almost 100 plays, musicals and opera, as well as some classic movies, died Saturday night at age 97.
His son Simon confirmed the news on social media, writing: “I am the luckiest guy in the world to have had such an amazing and loving father. May he rest in peace.”
Known equally for his productions of classics by the likes of Shakespeare, Chekhov and Arthur Miller, as well as more experimental stagings, the English-born artist was the recipient of multiple Tonys, Emmys and a Laurence Olivier award.
Born in London on March 21, 1925, Brook first began staging plays for his family as a young boy, but wouldn’t find his life’s calling in the theater until he graduated from Oxford University. After a smattering of undergraduate and fringe productions, he first began to attract attention for staging Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost” in Stratford-upon-Avon at age 21.
From the 40s to the early 60s, he took commercial theater – on both Broadway and the West End – by storm with plays like “Romeo and Juliet,” “No Exit,” “A View From the Bridge,” and “The Little Hut.” His musical work included “House of Flowers” and “Irma La Douce,” winning Tony Awards for Broadway productions of “Marat/Sade” in 1966 and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 1971.
A late ’40s stint as the director of productions at London’s Royal Opera House ended in disaster as Brook tried to shake up old conventions of the opera. After well-received productions of “Faust” and “Eugene Onegin” in the 50s, he parted ways with the art form until his highly-praised 1983 staging of “Carmen.”
Brook, who originally wanted to be a movie director and founded Oxford’s University Film Society in 1943, directed a handful of Shakespeare and opera adaptations for the screen. He also helmed a 1963 adaption of William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” and in 1968 made a documentary about perspectives on the Vietnam War called “Tell Me Lies.” In 2012, he co-wrote a documentary about his creative process called “Peter Brook: The Tightrope,” which his son also wrote and directed.
In Paris, Brook founded the International Center for Theater Research after moving there in 1970.
He is survived by his son Simon Brook and daughter Irina Brook by his wife Natasha Parry, who died in 2015.