※75 minutes without intermission.
※Performed in English with Chinese surtitles.
※Latecomers may not be admitted until a suitable break in the performance.
※Suggested for ages 12+
Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
“Why do we do theater? Why do we give our lives to theater?”
Assuming God, out of the boredom of man, created theater on the seventh day, we the practitioners of theater have brought life and truth together with a question mark. In the one-hour quest of Why?, created by the theater legends Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne, the existential questions ultimately lead us to the fate of the great Vsevolod Meyerhold (1874-1940), an inspiring and risk-taking Russian director and a victim of the Stalinist regime. With the spontaneous performance by Kathryn Hunter, Hayley Carmichael and Marcello Magni to pursue theater “as a dangerous weapon” as how Meyerhold believes, the humorous start is directed to a tragic path – but behold, we are never alone and “truth will win in the end.”
Peter Brook, Director and Playwright
Peter Brook was born in London in 1925. At age 18, he directed his first film A Sentimental Journey and first play Faust. He started directing at Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1946 and assumed the role of Artistic Director of Royal Opera House in 1947 at age 22.
From 1962 to 1970, Brook served as Director of Royal Shakespeare Theatre and directed Lord of the Flies, Marat/Sade, King Lear and many others. Brook later developed a passion for theater theory and teaching. He’s the author of The Empty Space and Co-Founder of C.I.C.T.- Centre International de Création Théâtrals in Paris.
Marie-Hélène Estienne, Director and Playwright
Marie-Hélène Estienne worked with Peter Brook on the casting for Timon of Athens in 1974, and consequently joined the Centre International de Créations Théâtrales (C.I.C.T.) in 1977. She was Peter Brook’s assistant on La tragédie de Carmen, Le Mahabharata, and collaborated to the staging of The Tempest, Impressions de Pelléas, Woza Albert!, and La tragédie d’Hamlet.
She authored Tierno Bokar in 2005, and the English adaptation of Eleven and Twelve by Amadou Hampaté Ba in 2009. With Peter Brook and composer Franck Krawczyk, she adapted Mozart and Schikaneder’s Die Zauberflöte.
Hayley Carmichael, Cast
Hayley Carmichael is an English actress and theater-director. She is Co-Founder, supervisor, and actress of Theatre Company Told By An Idiot. Her acting appearances on stage include The Dispute (Royal Shakespeare Company), The Maids (2007, Brighton Festival), Bliss (2008, Royal Court Theatre), The Birds (Royal National Theatre), David Copperfield (Dundee Rep), and Metamorphosis (Dundee Rep). She won the TMA and Time Out Awards in 1999 for Best Actress for her performance in Weep At My Piano, Mr. Puntilla, and The Dispute.
Kathryn Hunter, Cast
Kathryn Hunter is an actress and theater-director. She was part of Cards 2 (directed by Robert Lepage) before The Valley of Astonishment by Peter Brook. The two also collaborated in Fragments and Far Away. Hunter was also casted in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (directed by Julie Taymor), The Bee (directed by Hideki Noda), Kafka’s Monkey, Tell Them I am Young and Beautiful, King Lear, Antony & Cleopatra, Celestina, Whistling Psyche, Richard III, and many others.
Marcello Magni, Cast
Marcello Magni is a co-founding member of Theatre de Complicité where he has devised and performed and devised in 15 shows. Marcello Magni collaborated with Peter Brook and Marie-Helene in Fragments and Die Zauberflöte and in the documentary film by Simon Brook The Tight Rope. He is also part of The Valley of Astonishment.
Director and Playwright / Peter Brook, Marie-Hélène Estienne
Cast / Hayley Carmichael, Kathryn Hunter, Marcello Magni
Pianist / Laurie Blundell
Light / Philippe Vialatte
Images / Gabrielle Lubtchansky
Costume Assistant/ Alice François
Thanks to / Oria Puppo
Production / C.I.C.T.–Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
Coproduction / Theatre for a New Audience – New York ; Grotowski Institute, Wroclaw ; National Taichung Theater ; Centro Dramatico Nacional, Madrid ; Teatro Dimitri, Verscio ; Théâtre Firmin Gémier, La Piscine