Theatre legend, Sir Peter Hall, dies aged 86, while battling dementia


"Sir Peter's contributions to theatre are immeasurable".

Hall founded the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960, when he was just 29, and led it for eight years, establishing a company of talented actors, directors and designers with bases in London and Stratford-upon-Avon.

"We all stand on the shoulders of giants and Peter Hall's shoulders supported the entirety of British theater as we know it", said National Theater director Rufus Norris in a statement. In 1955, he directed the London premiere of Beckett's "Waiting for Godot", a play that confounded as many viewers as it enchanted.

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

But throughout his career he encouraged modern work and treated it with equal respect.

An adaptation of The Oresteia by Yorkshire poet Tony Harrison at the National in 1981, with the performers in full mask, divided critics. He also produced the Antony and Cleopatra in the year 1987 which had Dame Judi Dench and Antony Hopkins as the main actors.

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Hall made his Royal Opera House debut in 1965 with the United Kingdom premiere of Schoenberg's Moses und Aron, in collaboration with music director Georg Solti, and returned the following year with a new production of The Magic Flute, sung in English and conducted by Solti, for which Hall carefully re-created the original 1791 stage directions. His last production at the National Theater was "Twelfth Night" in 2011.

"Peter Hall was an internationally celebrated stage director and theater impresario, whose influence on the artistic life of Britain in the 20th century was unparalleled", the statement said. Without him there would have been no Royal Shakespeare Company.

Patrick Stewart said Hall had "transformed classical and modern United Kingdom theatre and gave me a career".

His energy undimmed, Sir Peter campaigned to get the Rose theatre, Kingston, replicating an Elizabethan layout, funded and built, celebrating its opening in 2008.

Actress Vanessa Redgrave, who worked with Sir Peter in Stratford, on Broadway and later, with her daughter Joely Richardson, with the Peter Hall Company, said she was sending his family "lots of love". Without him too it's entirely possible that the National Theatre's move to its contentious concrete home on the South Bank in the mid-70s, at a time of industrial unrest, would have ended on a decisive note of disaster. "A great director and shaper of British theatre". "He always had something brilliant and incisive to say about a production that made me think 'I wish you'd told me that before!'"