Sir Peter Hall was best-known for his work with the theatre, but he also directed several features in film and television, and was a member of Directors UK. Upon his sad passing at the age of 86, we take a moment to remember his life and works.
Peter Hall was born in 1930, in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. He won a scholarship to Cambridge University, where he studied English, before completing his national service for the RAF in Germany. It was at Cambridge that he began his career in theatre, and he quickly became the director of the Oxford Playhouse, followed by the Arts Theatre, London — where he directed the english language premiere of Waiting For Godot in 1955.
In 1959 Hall directed his first work for the screen, a TV movie of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, starring Georgine Anderson. A number of his stage productions were broadcast on television throughout the 1960s, until the feature film Work Is A Four-Letter Word (1968), a comedy starring Cilla Black and David Warner, provided a glimpse of the director’s versatility. This was followed by the drama Three Into Two Won’t Go (1969), starring Rod Steiger and Claire Boom, which won Hall a best director nomination at the Berlin Film Festival. Perfect Friday, starring Ursula Andress, followed in 1970.
By this turn of the 1970s, Hall was firmly established as an influential force in the world of theatre, having set up the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960 and departed them in 1968. He joined the National Theatre as Director in 1973 — and his screen career continued parallel to his successes with the stage. In 1974 he directed Akenfield, adapted from the novel by Ronald Blythe, and his theatre productions were frequently broadcast on television. He was awarded a knighthood in 1977.
The 1990s saw Hall direct two TV movies: Jacob (1994), starring Matthew Modine and Lara Flynn Boyle, and The Final Passage (1996). Between these two Hall directed the feature film Never Talk To Strangers (1995), with Rebecca Du Mornay, Antonio Banderas and Harry Dean Stanton.
Sir Peter Hall passed away in London on September 11 2017 and is survived by his wife, six children and nine grandchildren.