Social Buttons

Monday, September 26, 2016

In Context: Battlefield



Director Peter Brook returns with this tale of reconciliation in the wake of war, a breathtaking distillation of the central story of The Mahabharata, the ancient Sanskrit poem Brook first staged at the BAM Harvey Theater in 1987. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BattlefieldBAM.


Program Notes

Article
Peter Brook, human earthquake of modern theatre (The Guardian)

Article

Article
The Holy Theatre
An excerpt from Brook’s The Empty Space.

Interview
'Human predicament engages me' (The Hindu)
An interview with poet and sociologist Carole Satyamurti.

Watch & Listen

Video
Peter Brook talks with Charlie Rose (YouTube)
"I'm not a director, I'm a collaborator."

Now your turn...

What did you think? Tell us what's on your mind in the comments below and on social media using #BattlefieldBAM.

29 comments:

  1. A mesmerizing performance with minimal sets, costumes, and music and yet the impact was completely stunning and moving. At the end of the performance, when the drumming stopped the audience sat in complete and almost breathless silence for a good 3-5 minutes before someone finally applauded and broke the spell which had been cast upon us all.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was move to tears by the silence at the end of the performance...the beautiful stillness of the actors, the profound affect of silence...the audience breathing together....a group mediation...the metaphor of stillness and silence telling us everything we need to know. Thank you to the cast, to BAM, to Peter Brook.

    ReplyDelete
  3. He's a great director -- but he needs a script. And he didn't have one.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Frankly, rather mediocre.

    A brief theatrical moment here and there, title taken from wonderful former play (we were misled by it). Good actors, but would have rather read the text.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Katie & Peter BasquinOctober 4, 2016 at 11:15 PM

      Very close to the way we felt, although the play did provoke a lively discussion of Buddhist faith and principles on the walk home. Also, let's give the musician/drummer a little praise. He was extraordinary.

      Delete
    2. It is a Hindu epic, pre-dates Buddhism by several millennia.

      Delete
  5. Everyone remembers Anderson's line from "Emperor's new clothes":"But the Emperor is naked!" This show is a total flop, disgusting and unprofessional actors, there is a good reason it runs without intermission, I bet the audience would have evaporated, you gotta be really careful with BAM subscription, at least now I know this celebrity director, total and utter waste of time ,disappointment is an understatement

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow - I think we were at different events. Stick to Trump rallies.

      Delete
  6. As someone who goes back far enough to have seen Brook's A Midsummer Night's Dream, I can say that this was a major disappointment. There were a small number of good moments, but it was pretentious and obvious, portentous and dull. Parts of it verged on a lecture, the worst thing to do in the theater. Most of the actors spoke in the same tone throughout. In the program, Brook pontificates that his audience is Obama, Hollande, Putin, and "all the presidents." Surely he jests, but he has inadvertently put his finger on the problem. This is supposed to be theater, not a meeting of the Council of Foreign Relations.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Excellent production of a so-so episode. Really not enough plot or drama/action and the philosophizing came off as tedious. Though somewhat disappointed, I was not sorry to attend and it lived up to the NYT review which basically stated that the production was admirable, not great.

    ReplyDelete
  8. A very thoughtful bookend to the epic Mahabharata and a timely lesson (in truncated form) for current times. Staging and use of shawls was excellent, actors flowed smoothly in and out of multiple roles. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am baffled by some of these harsher criticisms. This production was very minimalist, but what I found in it was a director who leaves his ego at the door to collaborate and bring out every aspect of a production with simple precision. And through it, he brings out of his actors such exquisite humanity. From that alone, I experience what modeling for art classes gave me as an antidote to comparing my body with magazine pictures.

    In an "entertainment industry" world of visual artifice, high-fidelity, and manufactured charisma, the theatre is one last vestibule of natural reality in which it is possible to experience directly the aura of an actor's presence. I believe in and trust this director's quest to remove all impediments and distractions from receiving completely that stillness and fullness of being that belongs to all of us. He creates space for it. We should create space for it too, by going to the theatre to empathize fully with a mutual experience of ourselves and the world through these actors' deeply human presence.

    - Janine Wanée

    ReplyDelete
  10. TERRIBLE! wasted my money, my son was snoring the whole time, though he had read about the story, and he was looking forward to it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I was roundly disappointed by this production. In fact I have rarely seen so little life on a stage. The actors moved back and forth across it as if they too were bored. And I understand as well as anyone how beautiful and animate minimalism can be. This, however, was neither of those things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree that it was very bad. The drumming, however, was superb.

      Delete
  12. I fell right into the storytelling and drumming, the formal language and stateliness of the subject matter. Found it refreshing and uplifting.

    ReplyDelete
  13. AVOID. I saw the original and this was a pale echo, to put it nicely. One of the actors was lame, the rest good. Overall, bland and homogeneous with naer-zero production originality. Considering the price I paid, I'd call it a huge ripoff and waste of time AND money. At 1 hour and 20 minutes, it seemed long. BAM should be ashamed, luring people with a cheap and bad rerun. Shameless.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wow, I'm really surprised by some of the comments. Or not. The more shows I go to at BAM, the more I feel like people attending these shows are arrogant, privileged, educated elite who mistake bad attitudes for taste. Go wipe your brown, stinky, prickly ass.

    This show was exactly what that set needs---a moral fable, simple, direct, free from psychological gesture. Interpret all you want. Yeah, the lessons are old. We just don't seem to get it. I really liked the unadorned quality of the set, the stories within stories, the staging. I liked how the actors took on figurative points of view, instead of bold-faced passion. Passion, the artifice of emotion was stripped away.

    And when the lights came up and one actor broke the fourth wall and asked audience if they thought themselves poor or rich, I couldn't help but feel that no greater finger could be pointed at us for our misplaced sense of values. We tell stories to expand our moral universe. This play reminds us of the importance of telling stories to one another.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The arrogant people at BAM are those who write ad hominem attacks on those with whom they disagree. Actually it is more common to find people praising a production because a big name is involved, not because of the actual quality of the production. BAM won't miss you if you stay away.

      Delete
    2. Oh, let me add one name to the list: just another one of them that dons The Robe of the Higher Road, all gold and shimmery. You scuzz bucket, you're not fooling anyone. Now, go walk your poodle and attend your meditation class, you bozo.

      Delete
  15. A lovely minimalist production.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Beautiful, moving, theater at its best. Hard to believe the writers of the negative comments saw the same production.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I walked out. I have seen worse, but those were student productions and I felt sorry for the kids. This was $50 wasted.

    ReplyDelete
  18. To hear the actors massacre the beautiful Sanskrit names was cringe-worthy. Surely, they could have had any Indian coach them on how to say the names correctly. Also there isn't enough material to fill 1.5 hours.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Slow, awkward piece. Staging much better suited to a more intimate space. I questioned the random piles of bamboo laying onstage that were never used, save for a few pieces. Lighting spilled to random parts of the stage and the proscenium arch. There were some fantastic acting moments. Also, getting the audience to hold silence at the end of the piece was magnificent.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Brilliant and moving. I wish I had brought Kleenex as the tears fell silently from the beginning. A lovely woman next to me offered me Kleenex. The acting was stellar. The flow between humor and sorrow was life itself. Thank You for bringing Battlefield here Mr. Brook it was a highlight of my life. The stage and shawls a beautiful vision to behold. Shanti!

    ReplyDelete
  21. To see even a small section of Brook's Mahabharata at The Harvey, where Next Wave when born was still The Majestic and is why the theatre remains beautifully distressed, was a gift. This palace is rich with a theatrical history that's worth rereading.

    That said, is it a spectacle? No. Quiet, evocative, sad, funny and tender. The performers conjure up a spiritual grief gently wrapped in Hindu liturgy. The final tableau is art, and is well earned. Kudos to all the performers.

    One quibble - the lobby. Please, managers, could you direct the attendants not to shout? We know where the box office is.. or will soon figure it out. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your feedback! Because of the configuration of our lobbies and our hosting events in several venues, we station ushers to guide visitors to their performance (or screening) with ample time. To do this, we often have to project our voices when there's a crowd. We'll remind ushers to project their voices but avoid shouting.

      Delete