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Princess of Asturias Awards


Peter Brook, Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts

Considered the best theatrical director of the 20th century and one of the great renovators of contemporary theatre, Peter Brook has worked on stages throughout Europe and in countries including India, South Africa and Iran, as well as directing opera and film


British theatre director Peter Brook has been granted the 2019 Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts, as made public today in Oviedo by the Jury responsible for conferring said Award.

The Jury for this Award –convened by the Princess of Asturias Foundation– was chaired by Miguel Zugaza Miranda and made up of José María Cano de Andrés, María de Corral López-Dóriga, Sergio Gutiérrez Sánchez, José Lladó Fernández-Urrutia, Ara Malikian, Ricardo Martí Fluxá, José María Pou Serra, Sandra Rotondo Urcola, Benedetta Tagliabue, Aarón Zapico Braña, and Catalina Luca de Tena y García-Conde, Marchioness of Valle de Tena (as acting secretary).

This candidature was put forward by Antonio Lucas, member of the Jury for the 2019 Princess of Asturias Award for Literature.

Peter Brook was born in London on 21st March 1925. He graduated in Art from Magdalen College, Oxford. When barely twenty, he directed his first productions, The Infernal Machine (1945) by Jean Cocteau, King John (1945) by Shakespeare and Vicious Circle (1946) by Jean Paul Sartre. Between 1947 and 1950, he assumed the direction of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden (London), where he especially attracted attention for his production of Strauss’ opera Salome, with sets and costumes designed by Salvador Dalí. He was appointed director of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (Stratford) in 1962. After having presented the works of Shakespeare with a novel, ingenious approach, he subsequently renounced this position in 1970 when banned from working with international actors. In 1971, he set up residence in Paris and founded the International Centre for Theatre Research (French acronym, CIRT), now called the International Centre for Theatre Creation (ICTC), of which he currently serves as director. He also directed the Bouffes du Nord theatre in Paris between 1974 and 2010.

Considered the best theatrical director of the 20th century and one of the great renovators of contemporary theatre, Peter Brook has worked on stages throughout Europe and in countries including India, South Africa and Iran, as well as directing opera and film. Embracing almost all theatrical styles, his works include titles such as Measure for Measure (1950), The Tempest (1955) and The Visit (1958), as well as King Lear (1962), The Screens (1964), Marat-Sade (1964), Timon of Athens (1974), Ubu Rey (1977), The Cherry Orchard (1981), The Conference of the Birds (1976) and the opera La Tragédie de Carmen (1981). After ten years of preparation, in 1985 he presented Mahabharata, a six-hour theatrical production that marked his definitive consecration. In 1989, on the occasion of Human Rights and Freedoms Year, he premiered Woza Albert!, a drama about racial discrimination in Africa. His latest works include Sizwe Banzi est mort (2007), 11 and 12 (2009), Warum Warum (2010), The Suit (2012), Battlefield (2015), The Prisoner (2018) and Why, which will be premiered in June this year. Brook is also the author of several theatre criticism books translated into several languages, including The Empty Space (1968), which has become a fundamental text on modern theatre published in more than fifteen languages; The Shifting Point: Forty Years of Theatrical Exploration, 1946-1987 (1987); Evoking (and forgetting!) Shakespeare (2002); There Are No Secrets (1993); The Open Door: Thoughts on Acting and Theatre (1993), and With Grotowski (2009). He has published his memoirs, entitled Threads of Time, in 1998. He has also directed several films, such as The Lord of the Flies (1963), Marat/Sade (1967), King Lear (1971), Meetings with Remarkable Men (1979), Swann in Love (1984) and The Mahabharata (1989), among others.

Commander of the French Legion of Honour and Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Peter Brook has been awarded honorary degrees by several universities and is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, among other such institutions. In addition to the numerous recognitions of his works –Tony, Emmy, Molière, Laurence Olivier Awards, to name a few–, he has received distinctions such as the Europe Theatre Prize (1989), the Nonino Prize (Italy, 1991), the Kyoto Prize in Creative Arts and Moral Sciences (Japan, 1991), the Grand Prix de la Mise en Scène de la Ville de Paris (France, 1995), the Praemium Imperiale (Japan, 1997), the Dan David Prize (Israel, 2005), the International Ibsen Award (Norway, 2008) and the Honorary Molière Award (France, 2011).

As stated in the Statutes of the Foundation, the Princess of Asturias Awards are aimed at rewarding “the scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanitarian work carried out at an international level by individuals, institutions or groups of individuals or institutions”. In keeping with these principles, the Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts shall be aimed at recognizing “the work of fostering and advancing the art of film-making, theatre, dance, music, photography, painting, sculpture, architecture or any other form of artistic expression.”

This year, a total of 40 candidates from 17 different countries were nominated for the award.

This is the first of eight Princess of Asturias Awards, which are being bestowed this year for the thirty-ninth time. The rest of awards will be announced in the coming weeks in the following order: Communication and Humanities, International Cooperation, Sports, Literature, Social Sciences, Technical and Scientific Research and Concord.

Each of the Princess of Asturias Awards comprises a Joan Miró sculpture representing and symbolizing the Awards, a cash prize of 50,000 euros, a diploma and an insignia. The awards will be presented in the autumn in Oviedo at a solemn ceremony chaired by TM The King and Queen of Spain.

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