Sir Peter Hall, Groundbreaking British Director, Dies at 86

Sir Peter Hall, Groundbreaking British Director, Dies at 86

Hall died on Monday surrounded by family, according to the National Theatre.

In a statement, the National Theatre said it was deeply saddened to announce the death of "one of the great names in British theatre".

As the founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the man who led the National Theatre from the Old Vic to the Southbank, Hall was embedded in the world of the subsidized sector for which he tirelessly fought.

"All of us, including those in the new generation of theatremakers not immediately touched by his influence, are in his debt".

Gregory Doran said of his predecessor 'Sir Peter Hall was a Colossus, bestriding the British Theatre.

He was not just a great director of theatre he was a great politician. It is impossible to single out his greatest production.

Sir Peter created the RSC to realise his vision of a resident ensemble of actors, directors and designers, producing modern and classic texts.

He became director of the National Theatre in 1973, overseeing the company's problem-plagued move into a striking concrete complex beside the River Thames - accomplished with a mix of attention to detail and iron will that gained him both praise and criticism. He was a great innovator and I think his greatest legacy has to be the Royal Shakespeare Company.

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The company not only played in Stratford but expanded into the Aldwych Theatre, as a first London home.

He also gave world premieres to Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, No Man's Land and Betrayal.

The director created the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960, which he ran until 1968.

Patrick Stewart, who performed with the RSC as a young actor, tweeted that Hall "transformed classical and modern United Kingdom theater and gave me a career". As ever, Sir Peter coupled a potent political point with an innate sense of the theatrical. The play didn't have much of a plot, but it turned out to be one of the most important dramas of the 20th century: Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.

Hall's landmark work as a theater director in the United Kingdom included John Barton's nine-hour epic Tantalus (2000), As You Like It (2003, with his daughter Rebecca Hall) and A Midsummer Night's Dream (2010, with Judi Dench).

In the same year he worked with Dustin Hoffman on The Merchant Of Venice and in 2003 he collaborated with his daughter, the actress Rebecca Hall, on As You Like It. In context, it seems no accident that Hall's very last Shakespeare offering was a production in Bath that same summer of Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2.

Hall also directed opera, and was an outspoken advocate of government funding for the arts.

It's been some while since New York's Lincoln Center Theater mounted as brazenly audacious a mainstage premiere as John Guare's fantastical Four Baboons Adoring the Sun, in 1992, directed by Hall and starring a radiant Stockard Channing: but there was Hall presiding over a press preview like the beneficent paterfamilias that, with six children and nine grandchildren, he actually was.

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