Peter Brook discusses the Shakespeare authorship question on BBC's Newsnight

Friday, May 03, 2013

On Wednesday (1 May), renonwned director Peter Brook appeared on the BBC's flagship current affairs show Newsnight to discuss the Shakespeare authorship question and his new book The Quality of Mercy: Reflections on Shakespeare.

In the book, he takes issue with those who claim Shakespeare's plays were written by someone other than Shakespeare: 'there were many other writers [at that time], and they were as bitchy and jealous as all other writes are anywhere', he points out. 'And nobody wrote a little pamphlet, left a little note or stood at a street corner or stood up in a pub to say, "this guy's a fake"?

He also insists the realities of the rehearsal process - where a script is often questioned by the actors, and rewrites made - means that the pretence would have been impossible to maintain. As he says in The Quality of Mercy: 'No-one smelt a rat...? I'm sorry, academics - if you'd have been part of any rehearsal process you would think differently.'

Brook also spoke to Newsnight about his long, varied and illustrious career, his opinion of the curent state of British theatre and a number of other topics. The interview is now available to view on the BBC News website: click here to watch.

Additionally, on Monday (29 April), Brook was the focus of a National Theatre Platform, held in a sold-out Lyttleton Theatre. Interviewed by culture journalist Mark Lawson, he discussed topics raised in the book, and also answered questions from the audience on subjects such as acting, Shakespeare in translation and the benefits of mixing different theatrical cultures. Click here to read an IdeasTap piece on the Platform.

His new book, The Quality of Mercy, addresses a wide range of Shakespearean topics, as well as revisiting some of the plays he has directed with notable brilliance, such as King LearTitus Andronicus and, of course, A Midsummer Night's Dream. A celebration of a great director's relationship with our greatest playwright, it has received an enthusiastic critical response, with the Guardian praising it as 'modest and brilliant... should be required reading'. An extract of the book is available to read now on the Guardian's website; click here to get a taste.

Brook will also be talking about The Quality of Mercy on BBC Radio 3's programme Night Waves in the next couple of weeks. Keep an eye out for more information.

  • The Quality of Mercy