He’s taken us through the legends of India, the passions of Carmen and the romance of Shakespeare; now PETER BROOK leads us into the mysterious, hidden landscapes of the mind with The Man Who . . . . Mark Fisher reports back from its Manchester debut.
eter Brook doesn’t do things by halves. From a Tramway perspec- tive. it may seem that the director’s theatrical output runs at a leisurely one-blockbuster-a-year. but behind the scenes this 69-year-old man’s vision is uncommonly long-term. So in 1988 we saw The Mahabharata. that nine-hour Indian epic that helped turn the Old Museum of Transport into Tramway and one of the most dynamic large-scale venues in Europe. Back the following year with a paired down La Tragedie
(1e Carmen. Brook and his
‘ International Centre for Theatre Today, the great Research popped again in I990 for a new subject (If Francophone Shakespeare with [a universaI Tempete and were last seen in Scotland with l9‘)3‘s minimalist
interest is the brain and the moment we look inside, we find we are on . another planet.’
Im/nessimzs (1e Pel/eas.
But read his most recent book,
There Are No .S'eerets (Mcthucn £12.99). and you‘ll realise that all the wonderful productions Brook has directed since completing The Mahabharata have not actually . . - . been his foremost area of concern. These were produced. he claims casually. in recognition ot‘the ‘practical respon- sibility of having to maintain a theatre and an organisation‘. So forget the tolerance and compassion of La Tempete and the dream-like romance of P’l/eas. what‘s really been bugging Brook all this time is the neurological vision of Dr Oliver Sacks and in particular his book The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat. ‘1 had become interested in the strange and elusive relationship between the brain and the mind.‘ writes Brook, thinking back to 1989. ‘and I began to see the possibility of dramatising this mystery through the behavioural patterns of certain neurological cases.‘ In the absence of a script or even a structure, Brook needed ‘unlimited time‘ to research, devise and develop the new show, hence the five-year wait and hence several major produc- tions to keep us happy in the meantime. But now that Paris has welcomed L’l-lomme Qui. . . which opened last year. Brook is ﬁnally ready to present The Man Who . . . to British audiences. ‘Fora long while. within our theatre work. I have been searching for a common ground that could involve the spectator directly, without the need to rely on pictures from the past. nor on the over-familiar images of the present.’ says Brook in the programme notes for his company‘s ﬁrst ever British tour. ‘Today, the great new subject ol~ universal interest is the brain and the moment we look inside. we ﬁnd we are on another planet.‘
You can understand why someone who has spent a lifetime exploring the human condition on stage should be attracted to a writer who provides the route map for territory that even the greatest dramatists have yet to touch. You
:W ‘3, .. ,
Peter Brook: ‘I had become interested in the strange and elusive relationship between the brain and the mind.’
sometimes get the sense that Brook’s intellect isJ
8 The List 8—2l April 1994