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Peter Brook & Marie-Hélène Estienne

Thu, Apr 6, 7:30 pm

This performance and post-show talk is ASL interpreted; Amy Kinser and Shannon Moutinho are the evening’s interpreters.

Three men in long coats stand spotlit on a dark stage, looking on as a person, seated on the floor and wrapped in a yellow blanket, gestures with one hand.

Battlefield. Pictured: Jared McNeill, Sean O'Callaghan, Ery Nzaramba, Carole Karemera

Photo: Caroline Moreau

Brook . . . achieves rare magic, and with the slenderest art.

—Sunday Express

Copresented with Chicago Shakespeare Theater

The internationally renowned team of Peter Brook, Marie-Hélène Estienne, and Jean-Claude Carrière revisit the great Indian epic the Mahabharata, 30 years after Brook’s legendary production took world theater by storm.

The Mahabharata is not simply a book, nor a vast series of books, it is an immense canvas covering all the aspects of human existence. “In it,” Peter Brook has said, “we find all the questions of our lives, in a way that is at once contemporary and urgent. Over many thousands of years the Mahabharata shows us, in an always-unexpected way, how to open our eyes to what reality demands.”

NOTE: violent content, adult discretion advised

Running time: 70 minutes, no intermission

Peter Brook & Marie-Hélène Estienne Battlefield video still


Two pairs of hands, almost but not quite touching, take on conflicting gestures: one hand reaches toward the other, the second hand holds the first hand back. Both people are wrapped in red draped garments, but only their hands are visible.


Photo: Pascal Victor/ArtComArt

On Battlefield

Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne on the origins of Battlefield:

The unfolding of a great war of extermination tears apart a family. Five brothers are on one side, the Pandavas, and on the other side their cousins, the Kauravas, the hundred sons of the blind King Dritarashtra. Both sides use terrible weapons of destruction. At the end the Pandavas win. Millions of dead bodies lie on the ground. And now the eldest of the Pandavas—Yudishtira—is compelled to become King. The victory has the bitter taste of defeat. Both Yudishtira and Dritarashtra, the old King, are in deep distress and remorse, questioning their past actions, trying to unravel their own responsibility for the disaster.

How, having to live with this terrible massacre, having lost their sons, their families, their allies, will the new King and the old one find an inner peace?

The richness of the language of this timeless epic, and its always astonishing stories, allow us to bring to the stage this situation, which, belonging to the past, reflects at the same time the harsh conflicts of today.


Four performers are spread out on a stage with a red backdrop. Three people stand under a bright light. A fourth figure sits in shadow at the left.

Battlefield. Pictured: Sean O'Callaghan, Jared McNeill, Ery Nzaramba, Carole Karemera

Photo: Pascal Victor/ArtComArt
A woman stands in the center of a stage speaking to three people, who sit in a triangle around her, wearing or holding long colored scarves in different colors.

Battlefield. Pictured: Jared McNeill, Carole Karemera, Ery Nzaramba, Sean O'Callaghan

Photo: Pascal Victor/ArtComArt

Post-Show Talk

Stick around after the performance on Thursday, April 6, for a post-show discussion with the performers.