There Are No Secrets by Peter Brook Methuen $221 PETER Brook is the English theatre director, now living in Paris, most closely associated with a revitalised drama, usually theatre performed with the minimum of means for the maximum of effect, and frequently in spaces other than conventional theatres. This slim volume, also sold under the title The Open Door (Pantheon) contains three lectures and doesn't add a lot to the major statement of his aims and methods made in his 1968 classic The Empty Space. But the emphasis is increasingly on theatre, particularly ancient Asian theatre, as a path towards the sacred. Behind everything Peter Brook says here lies a strong sense of flux and transience. Nothing living lasts, and forms of art too have their day and then change into something else. Theatrical forms that were once magnificent, and that are indeed still magnificent, may be utterly inappropriate to our own day and age. Every performance, too, has its flow, a distinctive energy that varies from one evening to the next, and, like all life forms, has only a limited time in the world. The natural succession of artistic forms, however, becomes rigid under totalitarianism. A traditional, politically safe style is officially endorsed, and then everything else is suppressed. This sense of the sanctity of the natural is essentially a religious way of thinking and feeling. It's also very Asian. It isn't only that Brook has Japanese, Iranian and Balinese actors in his company. He feels in an Asian way, habitually seeing all of life as impermanent. His essential message remains the same as it always was. If the theatre is to stay alive it has to offer something different. If people want to see realistic images of daily life, or credible representations of the past, they can find them on their TV screens. But theatre has one special ingredient, living performers meeting a living audience, and in these conditions a unique experience can happen. With skill and emotional honesty, a magical transformation can occur in what was previously just an empty space or a hill-top.