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Sir Peter Hall, giant of theatre and founder of the RSC, dies aged 86
"The most blasphemous play Shakespeare wrote, The Tempest is about a man on an island who's allowed to play God and who doesn't just dabble in witchcraft but actually performs it."
The words are those of Sir Peter Hall, who died this week, challenging the idea that The Tempest is a Christian play. Graham Bradshaw quotes him in the Connell Guide to The Tempest which, as it happens, was the first guide I commissioned, and the first to appear. Before it went to the printers, I sent it to Hall, asking him if he might like to read it and perhaps give it an endorsement.
Two mornings later my mobile rang. "I like it,” he said. “What shall I say? How about: it’s the perfect introduction to The Tempest?” Great, I said. “But not everyone will like it you know. Some of it’s quite controversial." He’d clearly read it. “I know,” I said. But he liked the fact that it was controversial – and he was quite right about it being a perfect introduction to Shakespeare’s final play. In the last three or four years it’s helped thousands of A level students. As a great director, and the man who founded the RSC, Peter Hall has given all of us Shakespeare fans huge pleasure over the years, but I have my own personal reason for feeling grateful to him.
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