Legendary theatre director Sir Peter Hall (pictured at a Whatsonstage.com Outing) - who created the Royal Shakespeare Company and moved the National Theatre into its current South Bank home, amongst many other achievements - celebrates his 75th birthday today (22 November 2005).

Hall is one of the country’s – and the world’s – most distinguished directors, having been in the profession for more than 50 years. He has directed around 300 productions, amongst them numerous premieres of plays by Harold Pinter (who celebrated his 75th birthday last month, ahead of winning the Nobel Prize – See News, 18 Nov 2005), Samuel Beckett, Alan Ayckbourn, Tennessee Williams, Simon Gray and others.

He made his professional debut at Windsor in 1953 before moving to London to run the Arts Theatre from 1956 to 1959. In 1960, Hall created the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, later establishing its first London home at the West End’s Aldwych Theatre. In 1973, he moved on to the National Theatre, establishing its modern three-auditoria home on the South Bank and running it for 15 years.

Hall is also a prolific opera director. From 1984 to 1990, he acted as artistic director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera. He has also mounted productions at many of the world’s leading opera houses, including the Royal Opera House, the Metropolitan Opera, Bayreuth, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera and Geneva.

In 1988, Hall founded the Peter Hall Company which has since enjoyed more than 40 productions in London, New York, Europe and Australia, including residencies at the West End’s Old Vic and Piccadilly Theatres and summer repertory seasons at Theatre Royal Bath. He’s currently represented in the West End by his producton of Shaw’s You Never Can Tell, starring Edward Fox and Diana Quick, and is due to revive Noel Coward comedy Hay Fever with Judi Dench at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in April (See News, 23 Sep 2005).

A recipient of many arts prizes - including two Tony Awards and a Laurence Olivier Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1999 - Hall was knighted in l977 for his services to British theatre. In recent years, in addition to his many freelance productions, he has been spearheading the development of the replica Rose of Kingston (See News, 10 Jun 2005).

A spokesperson for Hall said he was going to celebrate his birthday at home with his family.

- by Caroline Ansdell