cover image Threads of Time: Recollections

Threads of Time: Recollections

Peter Brook. Counterpoint LLC, $25 (224pp) ISBN 978-1-887178-35-8

Stage and film director Brook's soulful, introspective autobiography is as different from the conventional show-biz memoir as his imaginative productions are from traditional commercial theater. Born in 1925, London-raised and Oxford-educated, Brook made his mark in the 1950s and '60s with inventive Shakespeare (a blood-soaked Titus Andronicus, an acrobatic Midsummer Night's Dream) and avant-garde European works (Marat/Sade). He relates also that he was immersed in the mystical teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff, and in 1971 founded the International Center for Theater Research, which brought together actors from different traditions and countries in an attempt to make theater reach across cultural boundaries and become truly universal. The productions resulting included The Mahabharata and The Man Who (based on the writings of neurologist Oliver Sacks); Brook's descriptions of how these unusual pieces were collaboratively created are as absorbing as his cogent analyses of earlier working relationships with actors like Paul Scofield and John Gielgud. The director is not an other-worldly metaphysician: he relates his spiritual discoveries very precisely to the insights they gave him about the theater. There is no gossip; his two children are mentioned just once; his wife (actress Natasha Parry) appears primarily as a working companion. Instead of personal chit-chat, Brook offers the chronicle of a committed quest. It leaves a moving impression of a man deeply fulfilled both spiritually and artistically. Photos. (June)