Peter Brook passed away last July at the age of 97.
The Cairo International Festival on Experimental Theater was founded in 1988. From the second edition, it enjoyed growing success thanks to the presence of some eminent theater men, including the British director residing in France Peter Brook . The festival wanted to introduce the thought of this revolutionary artist who developed the scenographic notion of empty space: it is in a way a return to the source, to a more simplified and refined device. Because Brook has upset the form of classical theatre.
His colleague for more than 25 years at the Bouffes du Nord theatre, the scenographer Jean Guy Lecat, had pointed out to Al-Ahram Weeklylast December, that “ Brook’s concept is based on the creation of a theater in the Elizabethan form. In this kind of theatre, the architectural limits between the public and the actors are not present. Two things normally happen when applying this notion. First of all, the public is in the decor, everything is located in the same space. And the public being in the set, they share the same experience as the actors. In a traditional stage setting theatre, the audience watches the actors. But in a theater where everyone is together, we share. It was an essential thing to understand in order to be able to find spaces, around the world, that correspond to the work of Peter Brook. So we have transformed 200 different spaces into theaters that always respect the same rule: everyone is in the same space and therefore everyone places themselves in the same aesthetic “.
Brook’s presence in Egypt, at the Experimental Theater Festival, was followed by the publication of several translated works relating to his universe, including those written by the critic Farouq Abdel-Qader, with the aim of popularizing his principles and techniques. Abdel-Qader translated empty space and ellipsis, two books that summarize Brook’s theatrical approach. The complete works of Peter Brook is another work produced by Farouq Abdel-Qader which brings together the various theatrical creations of the British director. Breaking the classic forms of the Italian box, looking for special spaces, restoring varied spaces… approaches that have enabled creators around the world to engage in the same experience and find other forms of theatre. Brook therefore imposed experimentation as an essential theatrical approach.
Young people of the 1990 generation
In Egypt, the impact of the Brookian experience was not direct. However, we have indeed found, during the various editions of the Experimental Festival, that certain Egyptian directors have opted for heritage scenic spaces, thus creating rich and elaborate scenographies where the limits between the public and the actors are erased. , in the manner of Brook. In 1998, the latter returned to Egypt, on the occasion of the bicentenary of Egypt-France relations. In the center hanaguer an unforgettable encounter with the young Egyptian theater men took place. ” A week before this meeting, the Hanaguer center organized a week of screenings of Brook’s performances as well as other kinds of documentation summarizing his journey. The meeting was quite rewarding recalls Hoda Wasfi, theater professor at Cairo University and former director of the center hanaguer. And to add: If we talk about Egyptian experiences influenced by Brook and his concept of empty space, we can mention the experiences of Mohamad Aboul-Seoud, Tareq Al-Doweiri, Hani Abdel-Maotamed and others. They are the young people of the generation of the 1990s “.
Despite his death last July, Peter Brook continues to inspire theater creators and encourage them to find other forms of theatre.