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Opening the National Theatre
Peter Hall Theatre director
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There was a prominent Tory minister. I think it was Heseltine who… who said that the South Bank should be turned into a conference centre because we had enough theatres and we should go to Drury Lane and… and run the National Theatre from there. So I mean, it was not a… it was not a propitious moment to be opening the National Theatre or to be doing it, and we… we had a lot of controversy. On the other hand – and you know all about this because a lot of it is thanks to you – we were very rarely off the front pages and one way and another it made the place talked about, so… And I think this… the market place is so noisy, unless you shout a lot, nothing much happens.

British-born theatre director, Sir Peter Hall (1930-2017), ran the Arts Theatre where, in 1955, he directed the English-language premiere of 'Waiting for Godot' by Samuel Beckett. He also founded the Royal Shakespeare Company when he was only 29, and directed the National Theatre from 1973 to 1988. He was at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-on-Avon for two season from 1957-1959. He also directed 'Akenfield' for London Weekend Television and ran the Peter Hall Company, which has 40 productions worldwide to its name. In 1963, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) and in 1977 was knighted for his contribution to the theatre. In 1999, he was also honoured with a Laurence Olivier Award.

Listeners: John Goodwin

Head of Press at the National Theatre (1974-1988), and earlier at the RSC (1960-1974), John Goodwin is the author of a best-selling paperback, A short Guide to Shakespeare's Plays, and co-author of Trader Faulkner's one-man show, Losing My Marbles. He is also editor of the play, Sappho, based on Alphonse Daudet's novel, and editor of a number of successful books, among them, Peter Hall's Diaries, and, British Theatre Design - the modern age.

Tags: South Bank, Drury Lane, National Theatre, Michael Heseltine

Duration: 51 seconds

Date story recorded: February 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008