Sir Peter Hall, founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, has died aged 86, the theatre has confirmed.
He passed away on Monday at University College hospital in London, with his family at his bedside.
Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves
Julius Caesar (Act One Scene Two)
Greg Doran said of his predecessor “Sir Peter Hall was a Colossus, bestriding the British Theatre. He was a visionary.
“Not only was he a great director of theatre and opera, he was a politician who fought for the Arts. It is impossible to single out his greatest production. But his greatest legacy without doubt will be judged to be the formation of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1961”.
Peter Hall 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. In 1960, aged 29, Hall was appointed as Artistic Director, and created the Royal Shakespeare Company to realise his vision of a resident ensemble of actors, directors and designers producing both modern and classic texts, with a distinctive house style. The company not only played in Stratford but expanded into the Aldwych Theatre, as a first London home. Hall’s many productions for the RSC includedHamlet (1965, with David Warner), The Government Inspector (1966, with Paul Scofield), the world premiere of Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming (1965) andThe Wars of the Roses (1963) adapted with John Barton from Shakespeare’s history plays. The latter was described at the time as “the greatest Shakespearian event in living memory which also laid down the doctrine of Shakespearian relevance to the modern world.”
Peter handed the company on to Trevor Nunn in 1968, and took over the National Theatre in 1973 which he ran for 15 years until 1988.
See Thursday’s Herald for more on Sir Peter’s legacy.