printed note is attached. For weeks he has been receiving letters announcing the arrival a baby to parents ofwhom he has no knowledge. The latest delivery provides the answer; it has all been an elaborate publicity stunt for a new play. Brook feigns amusement. but such frippery is not for him. The box is squashed unceremoniously into the bin.
As Brook is an unassuming character. so Les Bouffes Du Nord. the home ofhis International Centre ofTheatre Research. is an unassuming building. From outside it is indistinguishable from the manifold bars and tabacs that nestle into the busy streets around the Gare Du Nord. lts inauspicious red-on-white sign gives it the look of a spare tyre specialist; the odd poster stuck to the walls gives only a hint of what might be inside.
The cosy 19th century theatre itself is gloriously dilapidated. The damp walls are stripped naked to reveal crumbling paintwork or delicate Moorish stone carving. There‘s nothing as decadent a curtain or even a backdrop — like
‘To go to see what somebody has done to a production is decadent. It isn’tthe real reason for going to see a play of quality. It must be to encounter the experience oi the play itseii.’
Glasgow‘s Tramway, you see the brickwork and the back wall. The two semi-circular galleries. only three rows deep and desperately uncomfortable, are perched almost vertically above the stalls. As in a Hogarth engraving ofa bawdy playhouse. the predominantly young and lively audience hangs over the balconies. tottering on top of each other. nobody beyond spitting distance ofthe stage.
Tonight they're here for La Tcmpéte. Jean-Claude Carriere‘s translation of Shakespeare‘s last play. the quasi-mythical tale of Prospero seeking justice from his usurping brother after being stranded on a desert island for twelve years. It is Brook‘s fourth meeting with the play. In 1957 he directed a majestic John Gielgud as Prospero in a noisy Stratford production. which was followed by an ill-advised collaboration in 1963 with co-director Clifford Williams. Then in 1968. as Brook furthered his theatrical experiments. he laid the foundations of the international group work of the 70s and 80s
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FAR LEFT: David Bennent. best known for his boy-that-wouldn't-grow-old role in The Tin Drum. pays Prospero’s iishy slave Caliban with brutish energy.
LEFT: Prospero. played bya worldly-wise Sotigui Kouyate (tar right). greets the attending nobles with magnanimity.
The List 2(»()ctober— 8 November l‘)‘)tl7