The Perse School

Sir Peter Hall’s legacy lives on with opening of new performing arts centre at The Perse

9 Mar 2018

The Perse School’s brand new Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre has been officially opened by the School’s illustrious former student’s widow Nicola.

Following the kind agreement of his family, the School’s stunning new facility has been named in honour of Sir Peter Hall CBE, the internationally acclaimed director of theatre, television, film and opera, who died in September 2017 following a long illness.

As founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company and later director of the National Theatre, Peter’s celebrated career saw him have a massive influence on performing arts in this country for more than 50 years. However, The Perse played a part in setting Sir Peter on his way in the arts world. He gained a scholarship to the School in 1941 and became Head Boy in 1949 – the same year he took the starring role in the Perse Players’ production of Hamlet.

Designed by award-winning theatre architects Haworth Tompkins, the 370-seater Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre has greatly enhanced the Upper School campus. The Perse recognises the role creative arts play in developing confidence, creativity and communication within education and everyday life, going right back to the School’s ‘Play Way’ tradition of learning through performing, created by teacher Henry Caldwell Cook in the early 20th Century.

The Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre will offer vastly increased opportunities for students in the creative arts. As well as playing host to drama, music and dance performances, the centre will also hold debates, lectures, exhibitions and assemblies. Forthcoming events include the Perse Players’ production of Billy Elliot the Musical from 22 to 24 March and the Pro Corda chamber music competition final on 11 March.

The centre also features full backstage facilities, enabling students to experience all aspects of staging a production, a triple-height foyer incorporating exhibition space for art, technology and other shows, a coffee bar and a separate Gallery Studio for smaller productions and concerts.

Head Ed Elliott said: “We are delighted that Peter Hall’s example will live on at The Perse in the name of our new performing arts centre. The Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre will offer Perse pupils multiple opportunities for fun learning through drama, music, dance, debating and exhibitions. A love of the arts begun at school provides a tonic for later life, a lifelong opportunity to find perspective, empathy, insight, meaning and joy in the creativity of the human condition.

“I am pleased that the ‘Play Way’ nurtured Peter Hall, and I hope the Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre will in turn help future Perseans to develop their communication, teamwork, empathy and creative skills and act as a springboard for artistic careers.”

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