Shakespeare / My Chéjov

Peter Brook y Peter Stein

Presentation, Rodolfo Obregón

Traslation : Alonso Ruiz Palacios y Ma. Dolores Ponce.

México, 2009
80 p.

Joined edition of the translation of two presentations made and published in different times and places. They represent a privileged access to the theoretical thinking of two of the great masters of contemporary staging: Peter Brook and Peter Stein, on the impact that two playwrights —Shakespeare and Chekhov— have had on their own personal and creative universes. Both playwrights have been discovered and their meaning updated again and again before contemporary audiences.

In “Shakespeare”, Peter Brook —in a talk that took place in Berlin in 1990— wonders: what can we say then to the young actor who rehearses one of the great roles of Shakespeare? In pedagogical code, the answer deploys itself in a paradox: forget about Shakespeare, about routine approaches, reductionist interpretations and preconceptions on the author and his characters. Evoke Shakespeare, who lived in a time and age much like ours, with an impressive mix of cultures in a continuous transformation, with new ideas exploding and old ones collapsing. Before such an age, and before the lack of absolute certainties, the only security was to keep oneself open to the questions. Beyond any “modernization”, listen to the poet and help the public hear and see the diverse levels of association within his tales, with the ears and eyes of the present.

In the second section, Peter Stein —in a conference called "My Chekhov", presented in Moscow in 1988— tells of the long path towards his meeting with Chekhov, thanks to the first stagings he saw of his works, and then, through the reading of his tales, pieces and letters. Stein declares Chekhov the father of modern theater and explains some of his ”gifts” to the people of theater: the replacement of the hero figure and main characters in favor of groups of characters observed from the standpoint of a man of the 20th century —these characters are observed well within the drama of their mutual relationships and in their combat for control of everyday life—; the work of the actor becoming more complex in the face of challenges such as mini-actions or subtexts, whose elaboration make the actor practically a co-author of the performance; his exemplary collaboration with stage directors such as Stanislavski and Dantchenko and with the Art Theater; the challenge of approaching his huge spiritual worth and his defense of a true artistic, moral, social and even ecological integrity. The text by Stein is enriched by the interviews “The Father of Modern Theater”, with Olivier Ortolani, and “Make Chekhov Breath”, with Georges Banu, who is also the author of the prologue to the French edition of the book.