×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Peter Hall, Tony Winner and Founder of Royal Shakespeare Company, Dies at 86

Peter Hall, a lion of the British theater who founded the Royal Shakespeare Company and won two Tony Awards, has died. He was 86.

The National Theatre in London, which Hall directed for 15 years, said he died Monday surrounded by his family. “We all stand on the shoulders of giants, and Peter Hall’s shoulders supported the entirety of British theatre as we know it,” Rufus Norris, the National Theatre’s current director, said. “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.’

Hall twice won a Tony for directing – for “The Homecoming” in 1967 and “Amadeus” in 1981 – and received nominations on seven other occasions. In 1999, he was given an Olivier Award, Britain’s highest theater accolade, for lifetime achievement.

He was as comfortable with plays by William Shakespeare as by Peter Shaffer. In 1955, he directed the London premiere of Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” a play that confounded as many viewers as it enchanted. But it was the founding of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960, when Hall was just 29, that sealed his reputation in the British theater world and beyond. The company continues to draw large audiences for performances of the Bard’s works in its home base of Stratford-upon-Avon and on tour.

Directors, producers, and actors alike paid tribute to Hall on Tuesday. Patrick Stewart credited Hall with transforming the British stage and also giving him a career.

Others who worked with Hall include Judi Dench, whom he directed in “Antony and Cleopatra” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”; Anthony Hopkins, in “Antony and Cleopatra”; and Dustin Hoffman, in “The Merchant of Venice.”

“He was very mischievous, very handsome, an extremely attractive man who everyone fell in love with,” Vanessa Redgrave told BBC radio. “He was everything really, a kind of Shelley in the theater.”

Hall also directed opera, and was an outspoken advocate of government funding for the arts. The National Theatre said it would dim its lights on London’s South Bank on Tuesday evening in his honor.

Hall was diagnosed with dementia in 2011. He is survived by his fourth wife, Nicki; six children, including the actress Rebecca Hall (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”); and nine grandchildren.

More Legit

  • Bryan Cranston First Time in Variety

    Bryan Cranston on His Early Roles, Dealing With Rejection and His 'Erasable Mind'

    Following his 2014 Tony Award for best actor as President Lyndon B. Johnson in Robert Schenkkan’s play “All the Way,” Bryan Cranston is looking to add to his trophy collection this year with his performance as Howard Beale in “Network.” The deranged anchorman — who’s famously “mad as hell and not going to take this [...]

  • Ink Play West End London

    Wary Theater Rivalry Between London and New York Gives Way to a Boom in Crossovers

    Give or take a little tectonic shift, the distance between London and New York still stands at 3,465 miles. Arguably, though, the two theater capitals have never been closer. It’s not just the nine productions playing in duplicate in both locations — believed to be the most ever — with three more expected in the [...]

  • Alex Brightman Beetlejuice Broadway

    How Alex Brightman Brought a Pansexual Beetlejuice to Life on Broadway

    Alex Brightman gives the deadliest performance on Broadway — in a good way — in “Beetlejuice.” The big-budget musical adaptation of the 1988 film directed by Tim Burton has scored eight Tony nominations, including best actor. To play the frisky role, Brightman (“School of Rock”) dons Beetlejuice’s striped suit and an assortment of colorful wigs [...]

  • Santino Fontana Tootsie Broadway Illustration

    'Tootsie' Star Santino Fontana on the Challenges of His Tony-Nominated Dual Role

    Santino Fontana is doing double duty on Broadway this year. The “Tootsie” star scored his second Tony Award nomination this month for his hilarious portrayal of struggling actor Michael Dorsey and Dorothy Michaels, the female persona that Dorsey assumes to win a role in a play. The musical, based on the 1982 comedy starring Dustin [...]

  • Dear Evan Hansen

    Broadway Cast Albums Find Fresh Footing With Hip New Sounds, Viral Outreach

    Mixtapes. YouTube videos. Dedicated playlists. Ancillary products. Viral marketing. Epic chart stays. These are things you expect to hear from a record label discussing Cardi B or Beyoncé. Instead, this is the new world of a very old staple, the Broadway original cast recording. Robust stats tell the tale: Atlantic’s “Hamilton” album beat the record [...]

  • Ali Stroker Oklahoma

    Ali Stroker on 'Oklahoma!': 'This Show Doesn’t Follow the Rules and That Is So Who I Am'

    Ali Stroker is no stranger to rewriting history. With her 2015 Broadway debut in “Spring Awakening,” she became the first actor in a wheelchair to perform on the Great White Way. Three years later, she’s back onstage in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” as Ado Annie, the flirtatious local who splits her affections between a resident [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content