Specially Invited Plays


C.I.C.T. - Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord

Written and directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne 


October 25, 2019, 21:00

October 26, 2019, 14:30/21:00

WHERE: N Theatre

Duration: 75 mins (without intermission)

Performed in English, with Chinese and Engl ish subtitles


A journey into the heart of creation, a salutary questioning about the role and the need for an ancestral art form.

Peter Brook goes straight to the point. His theatrical message, delivered by three towering actors—Hayley Carmichael, Kathryn Hunter and Marcello Magni—is a poetic, politically committed act of breath-taking power and simplicity.

  – L’Humanité

What does Peter Brook’s new piece, written and directed with his longtime accomplice Marie-Hélène Estienne, speak about? Theatre, mostly. It speaks of reasons, from times immemorial, that have made men and women act, speak with their voices, tell stories that are not theirs. It speaks of the reasons that make us, the audience, attend plays, wish to be confronted with those voices and those stories that are not ours.

  – La Croix

Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne’s WHY? is a treatise in modesty, a little lesson without one superfluous word, pleasing to the ear and the heart.  

  – Froggydelight.com

In a little over an hour, Peter Brook gives a remarkable lesson in acting, the actor, the play.

This humble, modest and frugal piece will leave its trace in history.

  – Télérama

The magic works yet again. In the tradition of the best illusionists, with a mischievous nod, Brook does not reveal all his secrets, but answers an essential question: why go to the theatre? That evening, it seemed to have been about leaving the theatre intellectually taller.

  – Les Echos week-end

About WHY?   

Why theatre? What’s it for? What is it about?

We will take these questions, and many others, with us on a journey dramatic and joyful. We will discover that we are not alone, that many great practitioners of theatre have been inspired by them. This is “why” we do WHY?.

“Theatre is a very dangerous weapon.” – These words were written in the 1920s by one of the most creative, most innovative, directors the theatre has known. His name is Meyerhold. He saw all the menacing dangers that the theatre and art in general were going through in the 1930s in Russia. He read “the writing on the wall,” as we call it, but he did not stop, he hoped until the last minute that the revolution could win, and paid for this with his life.

The three actors, Kathryn Hunter, Hayley Carmichael and Marcello Magni will unfold for us this very human story, both dramatic and comic.


Directors: Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne

Performers: Kathryn Hunter, Hayley Carmichael, Marcello Magni

Piano Player: Laurie Blundell

Lighting: Philippe Vialatte

Images: Gabrielle Lubtchansky

Costume: Alice François

Thanks to Oria Puppo.

Chinese script translator: Chen Guangyu

About Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne

Peter Brook was born in London in 1925. Throughout his career, he has distinguished himself in various genres: theater, opera, cinema and writing. He directed his first play there in 1943. He then went on to direct over 70 productions in London, Paris and New York. In 1971, he founded with Micheline Rozan the International Centre for Theatre Research in Paris and in 1974, opened its permanent base in the Bouffes du Nord Theatre. Lately, he directed The Suit (2012), The Valley of Astonishment (2014), Battlefield (2015), and The Prisoner (2018).

Marie-Hélène Estienne worked in 1974 with Peter Brook on the casting for Timon of Athens, and consequently joined the International Centre for Theatre Research for the creation of Ubu aux Bouffes in 1977. She was Peter Brook’s assistant on many shows, including La tragédie de Carmen and Le Mahabharata. 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 (2012), The Valley of Astonishment (2014), Battlefield (2015), The Prisoner (2018).

About C.I.C.T. - Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord 

As a legendary venue, where the walls’ patina witnesses the memory of exceptional events, the Theatre des Bouffes du Nord has hosted actors and musicians from all over the world since its early days. Built in 1876, it re-opened in 1974 under the direction of Peter Brook and Micheline Rozan. In 2010, Olivier Mantei and Olivier Poubelle took over the management of the theatre and still carry on the tradition of a place of creation.

As seasons go by, the audience is invited to discover various productions successfully combining music with theatre and opera. All kinds of music—classical, jazz, but also contemporary music—compete for a run on the concert season. The Theatre des Bouffes du Nord produces a large part of its concerts and shows. In doing so, four new shows per season are added to the repertoire. New projects are supported by the theatre from the start and all through the creation process by new companies as well as renowned artists. This structuring mentoring is based on collaboration and a spirit of commitment preserved over the seasons and years. In addition to Parisian shows, over 250 productions’ performances are given on tour all over the world.

Confident of its influence, the Theatre des Bouffes du Nord also claims its local presence and commits locally to the diversity of its audiences and supports the access to creation for all.