The Perse School

Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre

A Centre for Outstanding Performance

Last month The Perse said farewell to one of its most accomplished former students when Sir Peter Hall (1949) passed away after a long illness.

Peter Hall was an internationally celebrated director of theatre, opera, TV and film whose influence on the artistic life of Britain over fifty years was unparalleled. He founded the Royal Shakespeare Company and, during his fifteen year tenure as Director of the National Theatre, was responsible for the move from the Old Vic and establishing the company in its new home on the South Bank. After leaving the NT in 1988, he formed The Peter Hall Company and became the founding director of the Rose Theatre Kingston. Throughout his career, Peter was a vociferous champion of public funding for the arts.

Peter, whose father was stationmaster at Whittlesford and Shelford stations, won a scholarship to The Perse in 1941 and became Head Boy in 1949. In the same year he starred in The Perse Players production of Hamlet. A report in the 1949 Pelican School magazine pays tribute to “the memorable performance of P.R.F. Hall…. who undoubtedly was the nerve centre of the performance and in more than the usual way. Hall’s was a balanced and dramatic portraiture of outstanding ability. Ruthless and unhappy egotism were there, sensitivity, generosity, attractiveness, impulsiveness, reserves of dammed up energy, finely contained alternations of buoyancy and frustrating paralysis…The completeness of the dramatic illusion he established, the integrity of his acting, many of us will long remember”.

The Perse continued to play a role in Peter’s life – he was tutored by fellow Old Persean F. R. Leavis (1914) whilst at Cambridge, and remained eternally grateful to teachers John Tanfield and Cecil Crouch for lending him the money to put on his first production – Anouilh’s Point of Departure at the ADC. Fortunately, the show was a success, and they got their money back!

The Perse played a formative role in developing his artistic career and Peter was kind enough to recognise that. We are keen that his outstanding contribution to the performing arts is recognised by his old school and we are thus delighted that the Hall family have kindly agreed for our new performing arts centre to be named after him. We hope that Peter’s remarkable career in the creative arts will serve as an example and inspiration to future generations of pupils.

The Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre was officially be opened in March. Designed by award winning theatre architects Haworth Tompkins, it has transformed the Upper site and increases the opportunities for pupils in the creative arts. We are very grateful to the alumni, friends and parents who have supported the project by ‘naming’ seats in the auditorium. If you would like to name a seat prior to the official opening of the Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre, you can do so here or contact Maša Amatt ( who will also be able to explain the tax efficient options available.

We are very excited about the drama, music, debating, art, public speaking and lecture opportunities created by the Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre, and we are very honoured that the Hall family are supporting the project.

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