The Empty Space: A Book About the Theatre: Deadly, Holy, Rough, Immediate
Book: The Empty Space: A Book About the Theatre: Deadly, Holy, Rough, Immediate
Written by: Peter Brook
Published by: Simon & Schuster (1968)
Peter Brook’s ‘The Empty Space: A Book About the Theatre: Deadly, Holy, Rough, Immediate’ investigates the important developments in theatre during the twentieth century — Stanislavsky’s productions, Brecht’s alienation technique, and John Gielgud and Paul Scofield ‘s ‘theatre of colour and movement…cascading words, of leaps of thoughts and of cunning machines’ (p.50). Based on a series of lectures that Brook delivered at the Keele and Sheffield Universities in Manchester, England, the book is divided into four sections — ‘The Deadly Theatre’, ‘ The Holy Theatre’, ‘The Rough Theatre’, and ‘The Immediate Theatre’. ‘The Deadly Theatre’ examines the fallacies of commercial theatre and the manner in which it limits the performers. Brook’s definition of a ‘Holy Theatre’ takes inspiration from Antonin Artaud’s conception of the ‘Theatre of Cruelty’ who conceived it as searingly holy — “A theatre working like the plague, by intoxication, by infection, by analogy, by magic; a theatre in which the play, the event itself, stands in place of a text.”(p.58) ‘The Rough Theatre’ is a popular drama unbound by the ideas of unity and style and where the audience can accept inconsistencies in structure, narrative, language and other things. Through ‘The Immediate Theatre’, Brook examines theatre as a director’s medium.
“Sometimes these four theatres really exist, standing side by side, in the West End of London, or in New York off Times Square. Sometimes they are hundreds of miles apart, the Holy in Warsaw and the Rough in Prague, and sometimes they are metaphoric: two of them mixing together within one evening, within one act. Sometimes within one single moment, the four of them, Holy, Rough, Immediate and Deadly intertwine.” (p.7)The Empty Space- A Book About the Theatre- Deadly, Holy, Rough, Immediate