Royal Shakespeare Company founder Peter Hall dies, aged 86

Sir Peter Hall, theatre, film and opera director, dies aged 86

Actress Redgrave worked with Sir Peter in Stratford, on Broadway, and later, with her daughter Joely Richardson, with the Peter Hall Company.

From staging the English-language premiere of Waiting for Godot, to founding the Royal Shakespeare Company, to leading The National Theatre of Great Britain during its pivotal move from its original home at the Old Vic to its purpose-built facilities on the Southbank, Sir Peter was at the core of English-language theatre for the second half of the 20th century.

Hall, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2011, was also an internationally renowned opera director and worked at numerous world's leading houses including The Royal Opera, the Metropolitan Opera and Bayreuth.

As a teenager, Hall was so in love with the theater that during the Blitz, he used his father's railway pass to see productions featuring actors like Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud.

"I read it and I don't pretend to say that I said to myself: This is the turning point of mid-20th century drama, 'cause I didn't", Hall admitted. It's terrible, ' a very English voice said loudly: "'Hear! hear!'" He helped shape my experience and understanding of the arts in this country, as I am sure he did for so many others. So it's worth a go.

Actors, writers and directors have also taken to Twitter to express their sadness at Hall's death. He was invited to work at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

"What he was saying was - not only Shakespeare has relevance now, as opposed to just then - but also that the company ethos is very, very important", says Wolf.

Nicholas Hytner, director of the NT from 2003 to 2015, added: "Peter Hall was one of the great figures in British theatrical history, up there in a line of impresarios that stretches back to Burbage". Some of those team members were a young Ian McKellen and Judi Dench.

He said of the company in 2005: 'I've always been happy at Glyndebourne because the theatre man is given as much weight as the music man'. But it wasn't easy; Hall continually tussled with the government over funding, even as he turned the National into an artistic powerhouse.

Part of that happiness came from directing and presenting new plays.

Hall was diagnosed with dementia in 2011 and is survived by his wife, Nicki, and children Christopher, Jennifer, Edward, Lucy, Rebecca and Emma and nine grandchildren.

In that production, Hall chose to portray the two leading characters as tramps - although there is no mention of this in the text - and directly affected nearly every subsequent production of the play. An enduring favourite is his production of Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream; first staged in 1981, it has received five revivals.



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