“In the second half of the 20th century, no director has had more influence or more recognition than Peter Brook.” - The New York Times

“Carried by three tremendous actors—Hayley Carmichael, Kathryn Hunter, and Marcello Magni—Why? is a poetic and political act of breathtaking power and simplicity.” - L'Humanite

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FEATURING Hayley Carmichael, Kathryn Hunter, and Marcello Magni
Laurie Blundell (pianist)


Why theatre? What is it for? What is it about? Why? takes these questions, and many others, on a journey that is both dramatic and joyful. The piece allows us to discover that we are not alone in asking these questions and that many great theatre practitioners have been inspired by the exploration of these questions. “Theatre is a very dangerous weapon.” These words were written in the 1920s by one of the most creative and innovative directors the theatre has known – Vsevolod Meyerhold. Meyerhold saw the menacing dangers that the theatre, and art in general, were facing in 1930s Russia and saw “the writing on the wall.” This did not deter him in his work as he held onto the hope that the revolution could win.
Peter Brook Marie-Hélène Estienne

Peter Brook was born in London in 1925. Throughout his career, he distinguished himself in various genres: theatre, opera, cinema and writing. He directed his first play in London in 1943. He went on to direct over 70 productions in London, Paris and New York. In 1971, he, along with with Micheline Rozan, founded the International Centre for Theatre Research in Paris and in 1974, opened its permanent base in the Bouffes du Nord Theatre. Recently, he directed The Suit (2012), The Valley of Astonishment (2014) and Battlefield (2015) – many of these performed both in French and English.


Marie-Hélène Estienne joined the CICT in 1976 – and has since never left – from press secretary to Peter Brook’s assistant, to casting, she has worked on many shows including casting the pieces. In time, she became Peter Brook’s collaborator, adapting texts, writing alone or with him, and finally participating in the staging of the shows. Their recent work includes The Suit, The Valley of Astonishment and The Prisoner.



Why? received its world premiere at C.I.C.T/Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris, France on June 19, 2019. 

The project was co-commissioned by C.I.C.T./Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, Theatre for a New Audience, Grotowski Institute in Wroclaw, National Performing Arts Center, Taiwan R.O.C. – National Taichung Theater, Centro Dramatico Nacional, Madrid; Teatro Dimitri, Verscio, Théâtre Firmin Gérmier, La Piscine.

Why? is supported by the Trust for Mutual Understanding, the French Institute/Alliance Française, and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States. 

Why? is presented as part of Crossing the Line Festival. Crossing the Line Festival is produced by the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF).