Peter Brook, influential British theater director, dies at 97

Among the Tony winner’s works seen in Chicago were “Carmen,” “Hamlet” and “Battlefield.”

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Peter Brook appears in 2015 at the Bouffes du Nord theater in Paris.

BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images

LONDON — Peter Brook, a British theater and film director known for an influential and distinguished career which saw him garner worldwide acclaim, has died. He was 97.

The two-time Tony Award winner, who had settled in France decades ago, directed the film adaptations of his best stage works as well as the 1963 movie “Lord of the Flies.”

Brook’s publisher Nick Hern Books said in a statement Sunday that he “leaves behind an incredible artistic legacy.” French media reports said that Brook died in Paris on Saturday.

Born in London in 1925, Brook would go on to study at Oxford University and direct his first London show “Doctor Faustus” while he was still a teenager.

After serving as director of productions at the Royal Opera House, he gained further fame through his work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, including “Titus Andronicus” starring Laurence Olivier.

He was a Tony Award winner for best direction in 1966 for his interpretation of Peter Weiss’ “Marat/Sade,” and in 1970 for the production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Brook was also the recipient of an Olivier Award, an Emmy and an International Emmy during his seven-decade career.

After settling in Paris in the 1970s, the director founded the International Center for Theater Research, for which he would regenerate the rundown Bouffes du Nord theater in the French capital.

Some of Brook’s works made it across the pond to Chicago, including his take on Bizet’s “Carmen” at Grant Park in 1992, Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” starring Adrien Lester at Chicago Shakespeare Theater in 2001, “Le Costume” by Can Themba at CST in 2002, and “Battlefield” by Jean-Claude Carriere at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in 2017.

Lester tweeted Brook had been a “giant in our field.”

Worldwide recognition also saw him honored with art prizes including Japan’s Praemium Imperiale, Italy’s Prix Italia, and most recently Spain’s Princess of Asturias in 2019.

Brook was married to actress Natasha Parry from 1951 until her death following a stroke in 2015. They are survived by two children, Irina and Simon, both of whom are directors.

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