Sir Peter Hall, the multi-talented director whose contributions spanned four decades on Broadway along with the founding of Royal Shakespeare Company and leadership roles with London's National Theatre, died on September 11 at the age of 86. Besides the theatre, he was a renowned opera director and served as the Artistic Director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera from 1984 to 1990, and also worked in film, with credits such as Akenfield, and TV, directing series like The War of the Roses and The Camomile Lawn. Richard Eyre, one of his successors at the National Theatre, said he "created the template of the modern director - part magus, part impresario, part celebrity". Other plays that made the trek from London to Toronto were Harold Pinter's No Man's Land, starring John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson (1979), Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce (1979); Animal Farm (1986); Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder, starring Alan Bates and Gemma Jones (1996). In 2011, Hall was diagnosed with dementia and retired from public life.
"All of us, including those in the new generation of theater-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'.
He became director of the National Theatre in 1973, overseeing the company's problem-plagued move into a striking concrete complex beside the River Thames - accomplished with a mix of attention to detail and iron will that gained him both praise and criticism.
Artistic director of the RSC Gregory Doran and the National's director Rufus Norris are among those to pay tribute to Hall, who they say "supported the entirety of British theatre as we know it" on his shoulders.
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"Peter's greatness lay in his astonishing originality, his charismatic leadership, his unparalleled daring, his profound scholarship, his matchless articulacy and his visionary understanding of what we call "the theatre" could be". He is survived by his wife, Nicki, and children Christopher, Jennifer, Edward, Lucy, Rebecca and Emma and nine grandchildren.
His last production with the National was 2011's Twelfth Night. He alone had the showmanship and energy to establish the three ring circus of our unique National Theatre on the South Bank.
See Thursday's Herald for more on Sir Peter's legacy. "And yes, he was my beloved friend for fifty years". He gave me my first break as an actor.
A private family funeral service will be held and details of a public memorial will be announced in due course.
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