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State support for culture

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Musicals: 'nice escapist bilge'
Peter Hall Theatre director
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There are some great musicals which I love, Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, My Fair Lady. Rather keen on Pal Joey but now I'm running out at a rate of knots. What I don't like about musicals is that they are sentimental, they patronise the audience, they don't challenge the audience and they really don't, I think, win any converts for what I call theatre. I mean I think they're nice escapist bilge but, you know, that's fine. But I can't be expected to like them, if I don't. So I like the really good ones but most of them are worse than Gilbert and Sullivan. It's also, I suppose... it's difficult if you've been brought up as a musical snob, which I am, although I try and be broadminded but it's frightfully difficult. I mean how are you on the rock and roll time? You know... I stop at The Beatles and that's about it.

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: Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, Pal Joey, The Beatles, Gilbert and Sullivan

Duration: 1 minute, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: February 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008