Peter Brook, famous director of Scale and Humanity, dies at 97

Peter, the younger of their two sons, went to private schools, where he was bullied and unhappy. He won a place at Oxford University at 16.

At age 7, Peter staged a four-hour version of “Hamlet” for his parents in a toy theater, announcing the play as by “P. Brook and W. Shakespeare” and performing all the roles himself. But he rarely went to the theater as a child, thinking it was “a dreary and dying forerunner of cinema”, as he later said, and aspiring to become a director. He was nearly expelled from Oxford after having neglected his studies for the University Film Society, which he had founded in 1943.

After graduating, he took a job at a company specializing in the production of advertisements. But his job ended in disgrace after he shot a “Citizen Kane”-style washing powder commercial.

His undergraduate production of Marlowe’s ‘Doctor Faustus’, performed in a small London theatre, brought in £17 for the Russia Aid Fund. And in 1945, he staged “The Infernal Machine” by Cocteau and “The Barretts of Wimpole Street” by Rudolf Besier, also on the fringes of London.

These won Mr. Brook an invitation to stage a traveling production of George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Pygmalion’ for the British Army, and he caught the eye of Mr. Jackson, who founded and ran the highly regarded Birmingham Repertory Theatre. There Mr. Brook successfully directed Shaw’s ‘Man and Superman’ and Shakespeare’s ‘King John’. He also formed a professional bond with Paul Scofield, who played leading roles in both plays. When Mr Jackson took over the Stratford Summer Festival in 1946, he brought the two men with him.

At the age of 12, Mr. Brook fell in love with the heroine of “War and Peace” and decided to marry someone named Natasha. “And so it happened,” he wrote in his memoir, “Threads of Time” (1998). He married actress Natasha Parry in 1951. Besides their son, Simon, a documentary filmmaker, they have a daughter, Irina, a director.