Daughter of the director Peter Brook and the actress Natasha Parry, Irina Brook was born into the theatre. Born in Paris, Irina grew up between England and France. Aged 18, she began her studies in dramatic arts with Stella Adler and performed in several “Off Broadway” theatre productions. Once she was back in Paris, she played under his father direction in La Cerisaie at the Théâtre du Bouffes du Nord. She then moved to London where she played several roles on screen, television and stage productions.
The first play she directed, Beast on the Moon, by the American writer Richard Kalinoski, was performed in London in May 1996. Thanks to this production, Irina found her vocation and decided to be a full-time director. She directed Madame Klein (1997) by Nicolas Wright and All’s well that ends well by Shakespeare. In 1998 she created the French version of Beast on the Moon – Une bête sur la lune – at the Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne, then at the MC 93 in Bobigny and finally, after an international tour, at the Théâtre de l’Œuvre in Paris (2001). This play won prizes in 5 different categories at the Molière Awards (including Best Director and Best Private Theatre Play). She also directed a television version, for which she received the Mitrani prize at the FIPA [Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels in Biarritz].
In 1998 Irina Brook was one of the rare directors who, at the invitation of Ariane Mnouchkine, directed the Théâtre du Soleil troupe, with whom she revisited All’s well that ends well at the Avignon Theatre Festival.
In 2000 she directed Résonances by Katherine Burger at the Théâtre de l’Atelier. This went on to win her a Molière for the Best Female Newcomer as well as the SACD prize for Emerging Talent.
For the Sartrouville Festival Irina adapted, in collaboration with Jean-Claude Carrière, an all age version of Homer’s Odyssey (2001), also performed in December 2002 at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord.
Irina went on to direct: Danser à Lughnasa (1999) by Bernard Friel at the Théâtre de Vidy and in Bobigny, which then went on tour, including Tokyo; La Ménagerie de Verre by Tennessee Williams in 2001 at the Théâtre de l’Atelier, co-produced by the Théâtre Vidy-Lousanne; Juliette & Roméo at the Théâtre Vidy-Lousanne and at the Théatre National de Chaillot (2002) and La Bonne âme de Setchouan by Bertold Brecht in Lausanne and at the Théatre National de Chaillot (2004), followed by a one year tour. She then directed Le Pont de San Luis Rey based on a novel by Thorton Wilder at the Théâtre Vidy-Lousanne and at the Théâtre de Sceaux. In 2005 she directed L’Île des escalves by Marivaux at the Théâtre de l’Atelier.
In 2005 she also devised En attendant le songe… a six-man version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, originally produced by the Dedans-Dehors Festival in Brétigny for outdoor performances in France and Switzerland. This play was programmed for three weeks at the Villeneuves-lès-Avignon festival, before heading off on a French and international tour, with a month at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord (December 2007). This show was performed more than 300 times in France, Canada, New York and further afield.
In 2006 Irina was once again invited to direct La Ménagerie de Verre with Japanese actors at the New National Theatre of Tokyo.
In 2008 Irina formed her own company in collaboration with Olivier Peyronnaud and the Maison de la Culture in Nevers. The Compagnie Irina Brook devised Somewhere… La Mancha based on the story of Don Quixote, which was performed at the Villeneuve-lès-Avignon festival in July 2008. This play went on tour throughout France and Europe (Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, Amagro Festival, Yerevan Festival, etc.). The last creation of the company was Tempête ! based on Shakespeare’s play The Tempest (2010).
In 2010 Irina presented her new production at the Moma in New York: Shakespeare’s Sister ou la Vie Matérielle, adapted from writings by Marguerite Duras and Virginia Woolf, accompanied by original music by Sadie Jemmett, one of the show’s performers. In 2011 she devised PAN, her own version of Peter Pan ou l’enfant qui ne voulait pas grandir by J.M. Barrie, at the Théâtre de Paris.
In July 2012 Irina was invited by the Salzbourg Festival to direct Ibsen’s Peer Gynt and to perform Tempête !. In January 2013 she invited the cast of Shakespeare’s Sisters ou la Vie Matérielle to rework the show, this time in French, for the French tour organised by the Maison de la Culture in Nevers and the Nièvre. The show was then remounted in September/October 2013 in New York.
In 2013 Irina reinvented her company, which took the name Irina’s Dreamtheatre in collaboration with the producer-literary agents Marie Cécile Renauld and Marie-Astrid Périmony. Irina’s Dreamtheatre was invited to the 2013 Spoleto Festival with its latest production: La Trilogie des Îles (The islands trilogy) [Odyssée, Tempête ! et L’Île des esclaves], where the company was awarded the Air France prize for most original stage direction.
In January 2014, Irina Brook was appointed Artistic Director of the Théâtre National de Nice, Centre Dramatique National Nice Côte d’Azur.
ph. © Amanda Lane