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27 of 30 found the following review helpful:
The theatre as a living organismJun 11, 2001
By J. Remington
Building upon the earlier work of Aristotle, Brecht, Artaud and others, Brook confronts the living organism of the theatre on four levels: Deadly, Holy, Rough and Immediate. In each level, Brook makes the case that the theatre is not only a necessary component to the human creature, but a being that despite its constant wounds and ills, manages to bounce up from the death bed and find a way to survive.
Interestingly when Brook was writing (1968) there were many cynical critics who complained that the theatre was dying in the wake of television and film. Brook confronts the issue that theatre attendance was reacing all time lows. Today, over thirty years later, it is daunting to consider that there are even more distractions (the internet, home video, etc.) and attendance is even lower still. Yet despite these imposing knives thrusting into the communal body that is the Theatre, the world's oldest art form manages to forge ahead, survive and, the rare cases, thrive all the while maintaining its cultural importance.
Brook believes the theatre is unique is that it requires a community of artists and audiences alike to exist. That very sense of humanity and awe is what allows it to flourish in many instances.
Brook's writing is admittedly erudite and sometimes pretentious. And perhaps when one takes the positions that he does, such lofty language and posings may indeed be impossible. I hate to say it, but Brook's book may be hard going for the theatre lay person- God knows I'm aware of how elitist that sounds, but I think it is true. Because of his thick verbage, it may take a couple of stabs for the reader to unlock Brook's fevered soapboxing. But the journey is well worth the price.
This is a book of theatre theory and therefore it may appear quite barren of practical solutions. However when read in conjunction with not only life experience in the theatre as well as the many great acting, directing and play wrighting texts, it does provide the theatre artist with the basis for forging a true political manifesto. To quote Brook himself, "To play needs much work. But when we experience the work as play, then it is not work any more. A play is a play."
21 of 23 found the following review helpful:
Insightful and ImportantDec 02, 2002
Yes: Brook is a genius.
Yes: This work is of great value to any theatre artist.
BUT!!! This book is rather dense, and those who are unfamiliar with major movements and theories in the last century of theater may find themselves a bit lost when Brook begins to talk about Artaud and the "Holy Theater" or Brecht and "Rough Theater."
Brook's ideas, through his sometimes dense writing, are meant to inspire and invigorate. This is not a manual or even a reference to create good theatre, as a major argument of Brook's is that good theater is far to complex and ever-changing to be explained by any book/manual/dogma/etc.
Read this book and know that it will not help you to create good theatre- if anything, it will raise the bar for "good" theatre so much higher that one's task becomes infinitely more difficult. This is the agony and the ecstasy of reading Peter Brook.
4 of 4 found the following review helpful:
Brook's GeniusJan 10, 2007
By Mr. Wright
What is great about the empty space is that Peter Brook's theory is relevant to all art forms. The four theatres he describes are basically categories in which all art falls into. This seems odd at first until you see what he is describing. What turns most people off is the idea of over-categorizing art. But Brook's theatres tend to be more or less critiques of individual performances, or what the effect of that performance is on the audience. This is also easy to read. Too much theatre philosophy gets bogged down by either melodramatic thespian writers, or rambling philosophies from those who have not trained themselves to ge good writers. With Brook, it is pretty straightforawrd, not always easy to understand mind you, but straightforward. If you are at all interested in the arts then this is a must read.
2 of 2 found the following review helpful:
An innovator's ideas about TheatreFeb 13, 2008
By Shalom Freedman
I am not very knowledgeable about Theatre and certainly not about Theory of Theatre. I found this book quite abstract and difficult to understand. Its opening sentences sets the tone for the whole work.
"I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage. An actor moves across this space while someone is watching and a piece of theatre is engaged."
This would seem to detach Theatre from local trappings and customs.
The book consists in an effort to define four kinds of Theatre, the Deadly or Conventional commercial theatre: the Holy Theatre based on sacred repetition , the Rough Theatre that of people in the steet, and the Immediate Theatre, the flowing transformative Theatre which Brook himself is trying to do.
As the author is considered one of the most revolutionary and important of modern Theatre directors I believe the book might be of value to those actually involved in 'doing Theatre' more than it is to the general reader.
3 of 3 found the following review helpful:
Peter BrookJan 09, 2007
By Aynne Ames
This book, along with Uta Hagen's "Respect for Acting" and any Stanaslavski, is the motherload of theater expertise.
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