We spoke to legendary theatre director Peter Brook in Paris at the Bouffes Du Nord ahead of the London premiere of Battlefield at the Young Vic.
Theatre is a process. In a process, something is moving and developing every day, getting a bit better, maybe getting a little farther.
Over the years people have asked the question: “When you do a play, do you think you’re helping to change the world?” I say: “My god no!”. But I know that when you’ve got a group of ten actors, however much on the first day they’re different, you have a common aim and it is immediate. It’s like a football team because when it comes to the match, nobody can think of anything but the immediate. Something is moving and developing every day. This little world is changing. Rehearsal time is always short but the pressure brings intensity, which in turn brings everyone nearer to one another. If a group of actors have worked together and they have become a whole, they know that with their story which they are longing to share, they can’t exist without an audience. And they know that time is limited.
When I started working all we had was just three weeks and I fought and fought until we could bring it up to eight weeks. I think for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, we got ten weeks out of Stratford, and then when we did the Mahabharata in our own theatre, on our own conditions, we could take ten years.
What’s interesting is that there is no such thing as a bad audience. The more diverse, the bigger the mixture, the better the audience. Gradually they come to what for us is the test. The audience is won.
We have to go on preparing, building, sharing, until a point when that whole group of people who have each come off the street with their own preoccupations suddenly are touched. And that’s a mysterious thing. For a moment, they and the performers have become one. And that for us is the only real test – we’re delighted if people applaud, it’s natural – but if before the applause there is that moment of silence, that is the ultimate reward.
The Bouffe du Nord, Paris. June 2015.