RSC founder Peter Hall dies aged 86

Peter Hall. Photo: Tristram Kenton Peter Hall. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Peter Hall, the founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company and a former director of the National Theatre, has died aged 86.

Hall was diagnosed with dementia in 2011, and died on September 11 at University College Hospital in London.

Hall founded the RSC in 1960, aged 29, the company he would lead for eight years. He later joined the National Theatre as director in 1973, overseeing its move from the Old Vic to its current home on the South Bank.

He later formed the Peter Hall Company – which he led until 2011 – and founded the Rose Theatre Kingston.

Hall’s landmark productions included the world premieres of Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming in 1965, No Man’s Land in 1975 and Betrayal in 1978, as well as Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus.

He also directed the first UK production of Waiting for Godot in 1955, at London’s Arts Theatre.

Among his final productions, in 2011, were Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 at the Theatre Royal Bath and Twelfth Night at the National Theatre, which starred his daughter, the actor Rebecca Hall.

Among those to lead the tributes were current National Theatre director Rufus Norris, who said: “We all stand on the shoulders of giants and Peter Hall’s shoulders supported the entirety of British theatre as we know it. 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.”

Former NT director Nicholas Hytner described him as “one of the great figures in British theatrical history”.

Hall was also known for his opera and film directing work, and staged more than 20 productions at Glyndebourne Festival Opera.

Its executive chairman, Gus Christie, said Hall’s work represented a “golden era” for the company.

Hall is survived by his wife, Nicki, and children Christopher, Jennifer, Edward, Lucy, Rebecca and Emma. There will be a private family funeral and details of a memorial service will be announced at a later date.

Read a full obituary here