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Sir Peter Hall died at the age of 86

Sir Peter Hall died at the age of 86

Peter Hall, a visionary theatre director and impresario who founded the Royal Shakespeare Company and helped build Britain's National Theatre into a producing powerhouse, has died.

As ever, Sir Peter coupled a potent political point with an innate sense of the theatrical. The documentary will be broadcast on BBC4 on Tuesday 12th September at 9pm.

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.

'All of us, including those in the new generation of theatre-makers not immediately touched by his influence, are in his debt. "His legendary tenacity and vision created an extraordinary and lasting legacy for us all".

He was a big character, but it was never about him: he cared only for the playwright's text and how he and his actors might most successfully bring the words to dramatic life.

His spectacular rise began with the English-language première of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot in 1955, when he was in his mid-20s. He was surrounded by his family during his last moments as reported by the National Theatre.

Sir Trevor Nunn once said that Hall had "changed theatre from ancient to modern".

He was regarded as one of the most important influences on British theatre in generations, with an worldwide reputation as the foremost authority on Shakespearian directing.

Sir Peter Hall on the terrace of the National Theatre London with Laurence Oliver
Sir Peter Hall on the terrace of the National Theatre London with Laurence Oliver

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

In a statement posted on Facebook, the Royal Shakespeare Company included a quote from Julius Caesar and said it was "greatly saddened by the news".

Hall by no means inhabited a cossetted state-funded preserve: subsidy, as his numerous books make plain, was a constant battle, and enemies arose alongside the allies.

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).

"Not only was he a great director of theatre and opera, he was a politician who fought for the arts". He also served as artistic director of the Glyndebournefestival from 1984 until 1990.

Sir Peter was diagnosed with dementia in 2011.

Sir Peter made his debut at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1956 with Love's Labour's Lost: his productions in the 1957-1959 seasons included Cymbeline with Peggy Ashcroft, Coriolanus with Laurence Olivier and A Midsummer Night's Dream with Charles Laughton.

Hall is survived by his wife, Nicki, and children Christopher, Jennifer, Edward, Lucy, Rebecca, and Emma, as well as nine grandchildren.

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