Peter Brook (inteview) comments ... "There are no secrets"
T-BLOG should have better organization (NB)
... 2008 Caligari
SummaryOedipus05 is the last online directory I have for my production notes. It helps to direct -- and I love the process of the open research... but it takes too much time.
QuestionsWhat else could I do to enhance the directing webpages? The handouts!
NotesI have enough showcases for Stagematrix: comedy, drama, tragedy.
"the archetypal or/and stereotypical" -- POMO and pop-culture (where?)
I do not have time to develope the last part of this course, because it becomes very individualized by the end of the semester. Each director works on her or his scene and this transforms instructions into cauching.http://www.gradesaver.com/ClassicNotes/Titles/oedipus/
2005 Class Project -- Montage(s) for Chorus in Oedipus
Director Must Read. A lot!"Showcases"? What does it really mean?
This is the part about my struggle with myself.
The shows I directed -- what I didn't get, why, what was missing...
The shows I direct...
The shows I want to direct and why...
Now you undestand why I have to stuggle with writers, actors, space and time, with the public...
2008 (?) Utopia ... postmodern : tragedy as comedy.
... although he was acknowledged rightly as a master craftsman, what interested me in his work was that I felt he had never lost the sense of being an apprentice. [ www.dggb.co.uk/publications/article9_86.html ]
PB (Peter Brook) : I think you can’t lose this, because a craft has no end. A craft is a ladder. There always has to be another level to everything. Today people are so scared of any scale of values. Here’s an example: Take the word ‘icon’. This was once a word of great meaning. Today a pretty girl, neither prettier nor better than a hundred thousand others, is suddenly elected by the press to be an icon. You see a word that once had a great fine subtle meaning has now been degraded. And that is a sign of our time. This shows a ladder in the sense of going downwards. But a ladder also means that going upwards is equally possible. So, if ones sees that there is a ladder hidden in the word ‘icon’, one can begin to wonder what really is an icon? Then you realise the coarse has hidden within it something finer. This is the great tradition of all crafts, everything fine can become finer and finer. This is what led to the guilds. In a guild, you start as an apprentice. The first apprentice deals with gross matter. He or she goes beyond that because there is a master calling them to investigate their tools. As they sharpen them and develop their skills they recognise that the next level is just a shell hiding something that is finer still. And in that way there isn’t an end to the process.
PB: Every apprentice director has to work between two extremes. There must be an aim, and an aim has no tools, but a craft is only about tools. An icon painter starts not with Jesus Christ but by finding earth and rubbing. Now what is earth, what are you rubbing in directing? First you have to develop a real living interest in relationships. It means that you see that you and an actor, you and an author, you and words are always in relationships. That demands your developing for yourself better observation, better listening, a finer use of your own instincts and intuitions. Then you see very rapidly that you can only develop this in yourself by helping to develop it in others. A director who is shipwrecked on a desert island, doesn’t come back 30 years later infinitely more qualified. The only work possible would have been on imagination. That is very important, but it is only one very limited aspect. The way to develop all those skills is in interrelation. All interrelations are important, above all, the sense of the audience. If you have a total respect for an audience, you see that, in being aware of what holds an audience and what loses them, you develop more and more the awareness that rhythm, space, all the physical sides of theatre are playing on the audience, and it is in this way you develop your tools. The other bridge that has to be made is between what it takes to make an icon in the finest sense, and the equal rightness of the crude incoherent craftsman who comes and says, "Well, to hell with it, all I know is that you need a hammer". That is why all the forms of crude, popular, traditional theatre must never be despised. Recently, I talked to young directors in New York, and the most important thing I had to say to them was "Don’t lose sight of the fact that the great Broadway musical directors of 50 years ago sat in the stalls and spent a lot of their time yelling "Faster, get on with it, keep going!". With those crude words they were echoing fundamental principles of the craft. At a recent young directors’ workshop at the National Studio I said, "We have been talking about the higher aspects of the art of directing, but ‘cut’, ‘it’s too slow’, ‘speak up’, are as fundamental as ‘where is the soul’, ‘where is the heart’, ‘where is the meaning’?"
[ Peter Brook received the Lifetime Achievement Award for 2001 in a private ceremony in September 2001 but he agreed to an interview to director Faynia Williams (FW) for DIRECT Magazine only. ]
There are 'no secrets'
FW: You say ‘there are no secrets’. We directors generally don’t meet each other, don’t know what goes on in other people’s rehearsal rooms. Can you tell us what goes on in your rehearsal room? You used to say, for instance, that the first meeting was just to be got over and then you start work. Do you still feel that?
PB: Yes. A lot of things that I could talk about as open secrets, say 20 years ago, are now generally accepted. That’s not through me, it’s just that times have changed. When I started it was unthinkable for a director to get actors on the first day to do exercises. Today there is hardly a production, hardly a director who doesn’t start with that. I personally believe in improvising anything that will give actors security. That is the first step of the process, whether it is through games or talk or reading or an outing or doing something unexpected, it doesn’t matter. But watch out how easily something becomes a convention, gets degraded. Today games have lost a lot of their value. The very first time a director said to a lot of terrified actors on the first day, "Now we are going to play a game", this was extraordinary because it was unexpected. Today, the way to really galvanise something new in a group of actors who’ve come in track suits ready to play a game, is to say, "We now start with a reading of the play”. Everything has to be pragmatic and one has constantly to adapt."
When I was officially inaugurated as President of the DGGB, I stressed that what is interesting about this Guild is that it is called a Guild. Anything that makes it possible for directors to meet one another is of utmost importance. Every single time I’ve had a workshop or even a half day meeting or just sat in a circle with other directors, it’s been rewarding, because nine tenths of the time the directors say they have never had a chance to meet one another, when this happens, something of the competitive rivalry, which will always be there, falls away a bit, and directors can look at one another with fellow feeling. This is very important.
[ http://www.dggb.co.uk ]
@2003-2005 film-north *
[ web companion to THR331 Fundamentals of Direction Theatre UAF course ]
FW: That brings me really to what you said about the lack of the English language having a good word for director. Why do you think that is?
PB: I think one has to recognise in terms of craft, that this new craft of ours is very, very young. For the word ‘carpenter’ or ‘stone-maker’ or ‘jeweler’ to come into existence thousands of years had to go by. But for directors, it’s been just a hundred years. I think that’s why the sense of coming together and sharing experiences is linked to the fact that compared with acting it’s so new, that directors haven’t even an appropriate name because they are still finding their way. And it’s not for nothing that directing can bring to a play or a playwright the best or the very worst. One shudders sometimes to think of what bad directing can do…
FW: But you came up with a wonderful word at a dinner with the film director Ermanno Olmi didn’t you?
PB: That was of being a ‘distiller’. I think it’s a word we can use amongst ourselves but one couldn’t put that on a programme. But I came up with another word, ‘animator’. One is responsible for seeing that what is there comes to life. So there one is like a midwife, well more than a midwife, because one is also going one step further, trying to stimulate the actual ingredients that make the life flow. In that way one is not only stimulating life, but also taking away barriers that prevent life flowing through naturally – that is ‘animating’. ‘Distilling’ brings us back to what we are talking about in the icon. For life to flow, not in its crudest but in its finest way, then you need filters. There is an energy in everything, but all energies are not of the same quality. There is an energy in highly propelled mud, or like shit that comes out of an orifice, at great speed, but diarrhea is clearly not the same as breathing. And so the transition is through a simple process that everyone knows - if you want to purify anything, you filter it. And then beyond filtering it you get to the mysterious processes of a distiller, where you are going to need heat, a very precise blending of certain substances and chemicals and temperatures and cooling processes and all that comes into the art of distilling. So put the two together, the animating, which gets the raw process going, it gathers the raw material, the crude fruit of the vine and carries it into the distillery. Then distilling begins.
FW: Do you think you can train directors really?
PB: You can train anyone, but you train them not by telling or showing them what to do, but by giving them opportunities to explore for themselves within certain given conditions. And the given conditions are something that a director can’t practice without. We are back to the desert island director. A director has to be put in a position where he or she has to relate to actors, to space, to different spaces, to different time slots, producing something in ten minutes, producing something over a number of days and weeks, recognising what happens when you are working under tremendous pressure, and when you are working in the great quietness and stillness. Going through all those are ways that a director can be trained, learning by trial and error. An organisation with the means to do it can create conditions in which a director can practice and experiment.
FW: What about institutions that teach directing?
PB: Well I would be very suspicious with anything that’s to do with. You quote two dreaded words, institution and teaching. But obviously a good institution with the right teachers would do much better than a bad institution with bad teachers.
©Film-North * Anatoly Antohin. "Stage Grammar"