THEATRE / The directors: Sir Peter Hall

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Celebrated productions: The Oresteia for the National Theatre (1981); The Wars of the Roses for the RSC (1963); Hamlet, with David Warner as the "drop-out" Hamlet, which became a symbol for a generation in 1965.

Famous finds: Directed the first British production of Waiting for Godot (1955-56), and the first-ever production of Pinter's The Homecoming (1965), No Man's Land (1975) and Betrayal (1978). Also Peter Shaffer's Amadeus (1979).

Directorial trait: His recent classical productions are known for his eschewal of directorial imposition. Consequently his productions often have no discernible stamp of Sir Peter Hall at all.

The big idea: The speaking of verse. Every line of verse is a unit, and needs to be thought of as such - in other words, the ears have it. More recently, he discovered the mask (Lysistrata 1993).

The big disappointment: Ever since the foundation of the Peter Hall Company in 1988, Sir Peter has been leaving his assistant directors to do the work. The result? Shamelessly commercial theatre, badly done.

The biggest mistake: Casting David Essex in She Stoops to Conquer (1993).

Other things you should know: He was director of the RSC from 1960 to 1988, making it a permanent company and bringing it to its London home at the Aldwych. He took over from Olivier at the National Theatre, overseeing the move from the Old Vic to the South Bank. He was artistic director at Glyndebourne from 1983 to 1990. He was made CBE in 1963 and knighted in 1977.

Home life: An impressive array of wives: Leslie Caron (1956-65), Jacqueline Taylor (1965-81), Maria Ewing (1982-90), Nicola Frei (1990- ). Consequently, an equally impressive progeny: four daughters, two sons.

The next project: Julius Caesar at the RSC in Stratford, his first visit to the main stage for 28 years. The rumour is that he wants to do a Peter Stein, employing hundreds of extras from the classrooms of local schools. This old dog has a few new tricks of his own.

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