Royal Shakespeare Company founder Sir Peter Hall dies

Peter Hall with Laurence Olivier and Richard Eyre

In a statement posted on Facebook, the RSC included a quote from Julius Caesar and said it was "greatly saddened by the news".

Born in eastern England 1930, the son of a railway stationmaster, Hall began directing as a student at Cambridge University. There he directed the English-language premiere of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, which transformed his career.

It wasn't an immediate success.

He also gave world premieres to Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, No Man's Land and Betrayal. In 1973 he began a term as director of the National Theatre, where he served until 1988.

Though his primary impact was felt in the United Kingdom, his influence spread across the Atlantic to Broadway in myriad productions, including the 1981 Tony Award-winning Best Play, Peter Shaffer's Amadeus and the 1967 Broadway transfer of The Homecoming. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1977. He also produced the Antony and Cleopatra in the year 1987 which had Dame Judi Dench and Antony Hopkins as the main actors.

He founded the RSC in 1960, aged 29, leading it until 1968.

Another notable production was Hall's 1983 staging of Wagner's Ring cycle in Bayreuth, Germany to mark the 100th anniversary of the composer's death.

As well as overseeing each of the eight successful seasons exclusive to Bath (during the summer of 2010 the Theatre Royal was closed for refurbishment), Peter Hall personally directed twenty of the thirty-seven productions which his company staged between 2003 and 2011; his final production in Bath being Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, which garnered five star reviews. He had been diagnosed with dementia in 2011.

The director enjoyed a particularly close association with Lyric Opera of Chicago. His production of the Mozart opera was highly praised and he directed four subsequent revivals of his Figaro here.

Hall's career spanned more than half a century. He was the company's artistic director from 1984 to 1990, and he played a key role in its decision to build a larger theatre, resulting in the creation of the new opera house.

Hall was devoted to the idea of theatre without commercialism and even after leaving the National he worked to achieve this ideal through The Peter Hall Company, which he set up in 1989.

The BBC will pay tribute to Sir Peter Hall on BBC4 and BBC2 with a special documentary celebrating the life of the celebrated director.

His marriages to French actress Leslie Caron, his personal assistant Jacky Taylor and singer Maria Ewing ended in divorce.

Related News: