Reading Peter Brook’s Empty Space: The Deadly Theatre and The Immediate Theatre is like looking at black and white. Deadly theatre seems to be everything that theatre should not be and immediate theatre everything that each director, actor or anyone involved in the theatre production should seek.
Some of my favorite quotes from the reading include:
A word does not start as a word—it is an end product which begins as an impulse, stimulated by attitude and behaviour which dictate the need for expression.
Deadly Theatre approaches the classics from the viewpoint that somewhere, someone has found out and defined how the play should be done. This is the running problem of what we loosely call style.
If good theatre depends on a good audience, then every audience has the theatre it deserves.
Here I feel like questions from Elanior Fuch’s “Visit to a Small Planet” could also be a guidance how to be a good audience: come to theatre not to consume but do your homework and come to participate.
In most of the world, the theatre has no exact place in society, no clear purpose, it only exists in fragments…
Deadliness always brings us back to repetition: the deadly director uses old formulae, old methods, old jokes, old effects; stock beginnings to scenes, stock ends; and this applies equally to his partners, the designers and composers, if they do not start each time afresh from the void, the desert and the true question—why clothes at all, why music, what for? A deadly director is a director who brings no challenge to the conditioned reflexes that every department must contain.
Again the same list of questions from “Visit to a Small Planet” can be helpful but only if you don’t become too dependent that this is the only way it can be. In my view, anything that you take for granted for too long can lead to the deadly.
I have often found that the set is the geometry of the eventual play, so that a wrong set makes many scenes impossible to play, and even destroys many possibilities for the actors.
…a true theatre designer will think of his designs as being all the time in motion, in action, in relation to what the actor brings to a scene as it unfolds.
I guess that’s where we step in 🙂