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Peter Hall dies aged 86

The RSC founder and director died yesterday at University College Hospital

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Peter Hall
© Dan Wooller

Legendary director Sir Peter Hall has passed away at the age of 86.

The director, who ran the National Theatre from 1973 to 1988, was also responsible for directing the premiere of Waiting for Godot in 1955. More recently he was one of the founders of the Rose Theatre Kingston in West London.

The director created the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960, which he ran until 1968. As artistic director of the National Theatre, Hall was responsible for the move from the Old Vic to the purpose-built complex on the South Bank. He successfully established the company in its new home in spite of union unrest and widespread scepticism.

RSC artistic director Greg Doran said of Hall: "A phenomenal energy. He was not just a great director of theatre he was a great politician. He was a great innovator and I think his greatest legacy has to be the Royal Shakespeare Company. He was a brilliant polymath and a fierce wit. An extraordinary fighter."

Rufus Norris, director of the National Theatre, said: "We all stand on the shoulders of giants and Peter Hall's shoulders supported the entirety of British theatre as we know it. All of us, including those in the new generation of theatre-makers not immediately touched by his influence, are in his debt. His legendary tenacity and vision created an extraordinary and lasting legacy for us all."

He formed the Peter Hall Company in 1988 to 2011 and in 2003 became the founding director of the Rose Theatre Kingston. He was artistic director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera (1984 to 1990) where he directed more than twenty productions. Throughout his career, Hall was a vociferous champion of public funding for the arts.

Hall was diagnosed with dementia in 2011 and is survived by his wife, Nicki, and children Christopher, Jennifer, Edward, Lucy, Rebecca and Emma and nine grandchildren. There will be a private family funeral and details of a memorial service will be announced at a later date.