Peter Brook's contributions to theater have spanned stage, film, and literary worlds. Brook was born in London, where he founded the Oxford University Film Society and received his Master of Arts degree at Oxford. His directorial history dates back to 1943 with his first production of Dr. Faustus at the Torch Theatre in London. Since then, he has become one of the most prolific directors in theater. In 1970, Brook founded the International Centre of Theatre Research in Paris, where he has presented works such as The Iks (1975), Conference of the Birds (1979), The Cherry Orchard (1981), The Tragedy of Carmen (1981), and The Mahabharata (1985), a nine-hour adaptation of the Indian epic poem. He has directed nine movies including The Beggar's Opera (1953), Lord of the Flies (1963), Tell Me Lies (1967), King Lear (1969), Meetings with Remarkable Men (1976—77), La Tragedie de Carmen (1983), and The Mahabharata (1989). His literary credits include The Empty Space (1968), The Shifting Point (1987), and The Open Door (1993). Brook's memoir, Threads of Time: Recollections, was published in 1998. Among his many honors, Brook has won two Tony Awards, one in 1966 for his production of Marat/Sade, the other in 1984 for The Tragedy of Carmen. Brook also garnered Emmy Awards for those two productions. His international awards include The Grand Prix du theatre des Nations for The Iks in 1976, The Grand Prix Dominique de la Mise en Scéne for The Cherry Orchard in 1981, and an Olivier Award for The Man Who in 1994. Brook's lifetime achievements have been recognized several times, including an honorary membership to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Kyoto Prize in Creative Arts and Moral Sciences, and an Olympia Prize for Man and Culture.
Peter Brook's longstanding relationship with BAM dates back to the 1970s, when BAM presented his innovative rendering of A Midsummer Night's Dream with the Royal Shakespeare Company. As part of the 1987 Next Wave Festival, he presented the nine-hour, three-part Indian epic The Mahabharata, for which BAM specifically renovated the Majestic Theater (renamed the BAM Harvey Theater in 1999). Following The Mahabharata, BAM produced Brook's adaptation of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard in 1988, The Man Who in 1995, and, most recently, The Tragedy of Hamlet in 2001.