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Peter Brook

Angus McBean Photograph. © Harvard Theatre Collection, Harvard University.

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Peter Brook

by Angus McBean
bromide print, circa 1959
15 in. x 12 in. (380 mm x 303 mm)
Purchased, 1977
Primary Collection
NPG P58

Sitterback to top

  • Peter Stephen Paul Brook (1925-), Theatre and film producer; Co-director of The Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Sitter in 12 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Angus McBean (1904-1990), Photographer. Artist associated with 276 portraits, Sitter in 79 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Pepper, Terence, Angus McBean Portraits, 2006 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 5 July to 22 October 2006), p. 60 Read entry

    Brook was the third subject in McBean’s 'Play Personalities' series. Following his productions of Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus (1943) and Jean Cocteau's The Infernal Machine (1945), the 21-year-old had just directed a highly original staging of Romeo and Juliet as his first play at Strafford. This met with wide critical acclaim, alluded to in the photographically enlarged background press cuttings, which show photographs of Daphne Slater, the 18-year-old who played Juliet. Brook followed this with a three-year term as Director of Productions at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. In the 1950s his critical successes included The Dark is Light Enough (1954), The Tempest (1957) and Irma La Douce (1958). In 1962 he became director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and produced a controversial King Lear with Paul Scofield, as well as a landmark production of Peter Weiss's Marat/Sade.

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1959back to top

Current affairs

Harold Macmillan wins the general election with an increased majority, returning to office as Conservative prime minister. The victory was the result of perceived economic improvement under the Conservative government, and his (misquoted) boast: 'you've never had it so good.' During his premiership he earned the nickname 'Supermac', coined by cartoonist, Victor 'Vicky' Weisz.

Art and science

Claudia Jones organises the first West Indian-style carnival in the country, starting the tradition of the annual Notting Hill carnival. The event was a response to the race riots of 1958, and an attempt to celebrate West Indian culture and help overcome racial prejudice by giving the whole community the opportunity to join in the event.

International

Fidel Castro becomes leader of Cuba. After defeating the American-backed Batista government, Castro's revolutionary army arrived in Havana on 8th January where Castro proclaimed himself Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Within a month, Prime Minister José Miró Cardona had resigned, and Castro took over.
In Tibet, an uprising against Chinese rule is brutally crushed, and the Dalai Lama flees to India, beginning his long exile.

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