Theatre and film director Sir Peter Hall founded the Royal Shakespeare Company and was Director of the National Theatre for fifteen years. He was also prominent in defending public subsidy of the arts in Britain.
Sir Peter, whose father was stationmaster at Whittlesford station, joined The Perse in 1941 and was made Head Boy in 1949. That year he gave an extraordinary rendition of Hamlet, under the direction of John Tanfield. He won a scholarship to St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, to read English, but his studies were deferred while he completed his National Service with the RAF. At university he produced and acted, and he staged his first professional production in 1953, the year he graduated.
In August 1955, Sir Peter directed the English language premiere of Waiting for Godot at the Arts Theatre, London, which was hugely successful. He founded the RSC in 1960 and served as its artistic director from that time until 1968. He was Director of the National Theatre from 1973 to 1988 and was also a member of the Arts Council of Great Britain, resigning from the latter role in protest over cuts in public funding.
Opera was another of Sir Peter’s passions and he directed several. Sir Peter passed away on 11 September 2017, aged 86.