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Irina Brook rehearses "Peer Gynt"

3 MAY 2012

published in: Drama

Workshop with Irina Brook in Paris
“I am quite convinced that if I admire and love my actors, they will be convincing on stage. After all, that is my task: to make these people glow.” The artist Irina Brook was born into a theatrical family. As the daughter of the stage director Peter Brook and the actress Natasha Parry, she has been in contact with theater all her life. She is at home on stages on both sides of the Atlantic. She has enjoyed her greatest success in France, although her native language is English. For Irina Brook, this switching between languages, cultures and theatrical forms seems to be as natural as breathing.

Thus, it is hardly surprising that her new production of Peer Gynt at the Salzburg Festival this year is going to be a multicultural one. Irina Brook is working on this together with actors and musicians for example from India, Spain, Japan or Rwanda. For the rehearsal process, she takes a remarkable amount of time and also resorts to unconventional methods.

Currently, she is maneuvering herself and twenty actors and musicians through one of three pre-rehearsals: a colorful mixture of languages and nationalities, of diversity, creativity and artistic energy. Brook has invited her company for two days to her house in Verrière-le-Buisson, a small town south of Paris. However, it does not look like work. Instead, it seems that she has invited the beautiful side of life to her home. Everybody sits or lies in a circle and reads scenes. Singing, music and acting mix and intermingle. This open approach leaves plenty of room for improvisation and discovery.

After a picnic with the group, Ingvar E. Sigurdsson from Iceland, who plays the role of Peer Gynt, starts to rap one of his long monologues. It sounds good, has energy and rhythm. That turns out to be the seed of something. Peer increasingly becomes a rock star whose best days are behind him. Sigurdsson is wildly enthusiastic about working with Brook. “Irina creates this relaxed, open working atmosphere and surrounds herself with people who think and act the same way. I have felt extremely comfortable here from the very beginning. I have never worked in such an international context. It’s great; it can only improve the world.”

Irina Brook emphasizes that respect and loving kindness are very important in collaboration. “It is as if these players are my children, and I admire everything they do. But that does not mean that I’m not strict too. They are not spoiled children who get anything they want. However, my affection for them is boundless. First and foremost, I appreciate my actors as people, and their uniqueness, their talent.”

This talent can be admired this summer at the Salzburg Festival. The premiere of Peer Gynt takes place on July 30, 2012 at 7:30 pm at the Perner-Insel in Hallein. Tickets and further information are available here.

Here you can listen to a podcast about the rehearsals with Irina Brook. (Only available in German.)