Theatre and opera pioneer Sir Peter Hall has died

Sir Peter Hall, one of the UK’s most celebrated theatre and opera directors, has died at the age of 86. Hall founded the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in 1960, led the National Theatre (NT) from 1973-1988, was artistic director at Glyndebourne from 1984-1990 and founded the Peter Hall Company in 1988.

Landmark productions in a truly remarkable career include directing the English language premiere of Waiting for Godot, the world premiere of Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land, a celebrated 1987 adaptation of Antony and Cleopatra starring Judi Dench and Anthony Hopkins, and the world premiere of Michael Tippett’s The Knot Garden.

He also oversaw NT’s move to the Southbank Centre and staged Wagner’s Ring Cycle at Bayreuth festival in 1983 on the centenary of the composer’s death.

Rufus Norris, director of NT, 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.”

Gus Christie, Glyndebourne’s executive chairman, stated: “It was a golden era for Glyndebourne when Peter was artistic director. He was loved by both audiences and artists. The productions he created were timeless – as you can tell by the many occasions we have revived them.”

RSC artistic director Gregory Doran added: “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 … his greatest legacy without doubt will be judged to be the formation of the RSC in 1961.”

Hall had been battling dementia since 2011. Details of a public memorial service will be announced at a later date.