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Book Title: O Espaço Vazio|
The author of the book: Peter Brook
Edition: Orfeu Negro
Date of issue: October 2011
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Format files: PDF
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Peter Brook's career, beginning in the 1940s with radical productions of Shakespeare with a modern experimental sensibility and continuing to his recent work in the worlds of opera and epic theater, makes him perhaps the most influential director of the 20th century. Cofounder of the Royal Shakespeare Company and director of the International Center for Theater Research in Paris, perhaps Brook's greatest legacy will be The Empty Space. His 1968 book divides the theatrical landscape, as Brook saw it, into four different types: the Deadly Theater (the conventional theater, formulaic and unsatisfying), the Holy Theater (which seeks to rediscover ritual and drama's spiritual dimension, best expressed by the writings of Artaud and the work of director Jerzy Grotowski), the Rough Theater (a theater of the people, against pretension and full of noise and action, best typified by the Elizabethan theater), and the Immediate Theater, which Brook identifies his own career with, an attempt to discover a fluid and ever-changing style that emphasizes the joy of the theatrical experience. What differentiates Brook's writing from so many other theatrical gurus is its extraordinary clarity. His gentle illumination of the four types of theater is conversational, even chatty, and though passionately felt, it's entirely lacking in the sort of didactic bombast that flaws many similar texts. --John Longenbaugh
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Read information about the authorPeter Brook (born 1925) was a world renowned theater director, staging innovative productions of the works of famous playwrights.
Peter Brook was born in London in 1925, the son of immigrant scientists from Russia. A precocious child with a distaste for formal education but a love of learning, Brook performed his own four-hour version of Shakespeare's Hamlet at the age of seven. After spending two years in Switzerland recovering from a glandular infection, Brook became one of the youngest undergraduates at Oxford University. At the same time he wrote scripts for television commercials and introduced to London audiences his first professional stage production, Marlowe's Dr. Faustus.
Brook, called the "golden boy," did his first production at Stratford Theatre, one of the world's most prestigious stages, at the young age of 21. It was Shakespeare's Loves Labours Lost. He spent the next several years staging acclaimed productions of plays. He worked at the Covent Garden directing opera, as well as designing the sets and costumes for his productions. Always seeking innovations and styles which would make his productions speak to modern audiences, he ended this experience with opera by calling it "deadlytheater." He directed plays with prominent actors, including Laurence Olivier in Titus Andronicus and Paul Schofield in King Lear. (Brook also directed the film version of this production.) In 1961 Peter Brook directed one of his seven films, the chilling Peter Shaffer adaptation of Lord of the Flies.
Despite his successes and the fact that he was named as one of the directors of the famous Royal Shakespeare Company in 1962, Brook continued to seek out alternative ways to create vibrant, meaningfultheater. This search led him to direct a season of experimental theater with the Royal Shakespeare Company in which he was free from the commercial constraints of box office concerns. The season was called "Theatre of Cruelty," a name taken from the works of Antonin Artaud, one of this century's most influentialtheater men. Brook's desire was to turn away from stars and to create an ensemble of actors who improvised during a long rehearsal period in a search of the meaning of "holytheater."
Out of this search would come the director's finest work. In 1964 Brook directed Genet's The Screens and Peter Weiss' Marat Sade, for which he received seven major awards and introduced Glenda Jackson to the theater. Influenced by Bertolt Brecht and Artaud, Marat Sade shocked the audience with its insane asylum environment. In 1966 he developed US, a play about the Vietnam experience and the horrors of war. The production reflected a collective statement by all of the artists involved and was certainly a departure from traditional theater. Jerzy Grotowski, one of the most important theater directors of this century and a man who profoundly influenced Brook, came to work with the company during this production. Brook also did an adaptation of Seneca's Oedipus by Ted Hughes, a renowned English poet who continued to collaborate with the director for many years. The culmination of this phase of Brook's work was hisproduction of A Midsummer Night's Dream (1970). Using trapezes, juggling, and circus effects, Brook and his actors created a sense of magic, joy, and celebration in this interpretation of Shakespeare's play. It was a masterpiece of thetheater.
After this highly successful production, Brook went to Paris and founded the International Center of Theatre Research. He wanted to find a new form of theater that could speak to people worldwide--theater which was truly universal. He also wanted to work in an environment of unlimited rehearsal time in order to allow for a deep search-of-self for all involved. The firstproduction that came out of this third phase was Orghast (1971), which employed a new language based on sound developed by Ted Hughes. This production, performed at the ruins of Persepolis in Persia, used actors from many differ
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