Théàtre des Bouffes du Nord is one of the most beautiful theatre buildings in the world: its previous lives which unfolded here since 1876 have not been painted over; they can be seen and felt. The faded Belle Époque opulence reminds of itself through the magnificently dilapidated interior throughout the building.
Since 1914, none of the theatre companies which took residence here over the next sixty years had the means to pay for the necessary renovation work. And in 1974, when Peter Brook chose this building, by then populated by pigeons only, to house his international theatre laboratory that eventually evolved into Théàtre des Bouffes du Nord, he also decided to leave the accumulated layers of time untouched. Only the velvet seat rows were mercilessly ripped out of the auditorium and the stage was reduced to naked walls - to make it clear that neither stage machinery nor elaborate set designs are needed to make theatre happen. It only takes an actor in an empty room.
Peter Brook was the Artistic Director of Théàtre des Bouffes du Nord until late 2009. Today, many contemporary artists appear here as guest directors; the playbill still features Brook's name quite often. It is the Master's latest works that get the most mixed reception these days; the radical simplicity cultivated by the director over the last decade or so is astonishing with its unpretentiousness, clarity of thought and power.
37 bis, Boulevard de la Chapelle
Keywords: theatre, theatres, Paris