Legendary director Peter Brook's new eight-person Hamlet ends its U.S. debut in Seattle April 19. Performances began at Mercer Arena April 6. Nearly the entire Seattle theatre community came together for the Mercer Arena presentation: the play is produced by the Seattle Center in association with Seattle Repertory Theatre, Intiman Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre and The Empty Space. (The last, coincidentally, bears the title of Brook's most famous volume of essays.)
After Seattle, the drama travels to the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Harvey Theatre April 24-May 6, and finally to Chicago Shakespeare Theater in late May 2001.
The production originated in Paris in November 2000. Hamlet will mark Brook's first theatre offering in the U.S. since The Man That... at the Brooklyn Academy of Music several seasons back.
The British actor Adrian Lester is Brooks' Hamlet. The Seattle cast also features Scott Handy (Horatio), Jeffrey Kissoon as Claudius and The Ghost; Bruce Myers as Polonius and the Grave Digger; Natasha Parry as Gertrude; Shantala Shivalingappa as Ophelia; Rohan Siva as Laertes and Gildenstern and Naseeruddin Shah as Rosencrantz and the First Player.
For information on the Seattle staging call (206) 443-2222. Hamlet in Seattle is on the web at http://www.hamletinseattle.org. *
Brook, born in London but long based in Paris, is one of the half-dozen most influential directors of the past 30 years, both through his ambitious, yet spare, productions, and his several volumes of theory, including the seminal quartet of essays, "The Empty Space." His career is littered with landmark productions, some of the most famous being Marat/Sade, the marathon The Mahabharata, The Tragedie of Carmen and his takes on A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Cherry Orchard.
Brook began his career just after World War II. He started a long association with what became the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1946 with Love's Labour's Lost and went on to direct plays by Christopher Fry, Paul Scofield in King Lear and Laurence Olivier in Titus Andronicus. By 1970, however, he'd moved to Paris and founded the International Centre of Theatre Research. There, he assembled a group of theatre artists, including everyone from actors to musicians to acrobats, and experimented with improvisation and efforts to bridge the gaps between different cultures.
— By Christine Ehren
and Robert Simonson