Sir Peter Hall, Groundbreaking British Director, Dies at 86


His career spanned over half a century, in his mid-twenties, he staged the English-language premiere of Waiting for Godot, before setting up the RSC which saw a resident ensemble of actors, diretors and designers staging classic and modern texts in Shakespeare's place of birth - Stratford-upon-Avon - and London.

Sir Nicholas Hytner, its director from 2003 to 2015, said: "Peter Hall was one of the great figures in British theatrical history, up there in a line of impresarios that stretches back to Burbage".

Hall was devoted to the idea of theatre without commercialism and even after leaving the National he worked to achieve this ideal through The Peter Hall Company, which he set up in 1989. Other plays that made the trek from London to Toronto were Harold Pinter's No Man's Land, starring John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson (1979), Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce (1979); Animal Farm (1986); Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder, starring Alan Bates and Gemma Jones (1996).

"Peter Hall was an internationally celebrated stage director and theatre impresario, whose influence on the artistic life of Britain in the 20th century was unparalleled", it said.

A host of actors, including Sir Patrick Stewart and Laurence Fox, tweeted tributes.

Appointed director of the National Theatre in 1973, Mr Hall was responsible for the move from the Old Vic theatre to its current home in a purpose-built complex on the South Bank of the River Thames.

'His legendary tenacity and vision created an extraordinary and lasting legacy for us all'. He had been diagnosed with dementia in 2011.

Says David Mirvish: "I was immediately attracted to Sir Peter's ambitious plans".

Sir Patrick said the director "transformed classical and modern United Kingdom theatre and gave me a career".

'Our honest thoughts and sympathies are with Sir Peter's family and friends at this sad time'.

He left the National in 1988 and formed the Peter Hall Company, and went on to become the founding director of the Rose Theatre Kingston in 2003.

"The Acting Company, which comprised of 35 actors, was a who's who of British theatre and film, including Rupert Graves, Felicity Kendal, Geraldine McEwan, Gemma Jones and Michael Pennington".

He was the company's artistic director from 1984 to 1990, and he played a key role in its decision to build a larger theatre, resulting in the creation of the new opera house.

The director, who founded the Peter Hall Company, was married four times. He is survived by his fourth wife, Nicki; six children, including the actress Rebecca Hall ("Vicky Cristina Barcelona"); and nine grandchildren.