In the opinion of Andrew Seth, Chairman of the Board of Governors of Kingston University, where Sir Peter Hall was appointed Chancellor in 2000: “No living person has had as much effect on the British theatre as Sir Peter Hall.” There are few who would disagree.
Hall is perhaps best known as the founding director of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). He created the company in 1960 while aged only 29 and established its initial London base at the Aldwych theatre. Over the next eight years the company built a reputation as perhaps the greatest classical theatre company in the world.
One of the RSC’s few challengers for this accolade was the National Theatre Company which, fittingly enough, provided Hall with his next challenge. Taking over as Artistic Director from Sir Laurence Olivier in 1973, Hall oversaw the opening of the National Theatre building on the South Bank and remained in the post until he was succeeded by Richard Eyre in 1988.
Upon leaving the National, Hall launched a new company, the aptly-named Peter Hall Company, which has produced acclaimed work in London, New York, Europe and Australia. In 2008 Hall directed the first performance (Uncle Vanya) in the newly built Rose theatre at Kingston upon Thames.
Hall has been the recipient of numerous awards through his career including two Tony Awards (for Amadeus and The Homecoming) and a Laurence Olivier Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1999. He was knighted in 1977 for his services to British theatre.