On Edward Hall

Wednesday 13th January 2010

Hampstead Theatre artistic director Edward Hall. Photo: Helen Maybanks
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Today, the Hampstead Theatre announced its new artistic director, Edward Hall. He will take over at the end of the month, after Anthony Clark steps down after seven years as this venue’s head man. This is clearly good news because Hall is a media-friendly personality, much loved by the critics for his productions of Shakespeare, and his revivals of classics. For a couple of years now, Clark has managed to alienate the critics, many of who loathe his taste in new plays with a passion that can only be described! So this change of leadership is a good thing for the image of the theatre. But what about the substance? I was under the impression that the Hampstead was a new writing theatre so it is odd, to say the least, that they have chosen a director with practically no experience of working with living playwrights. Does this matter? Perhaps not: it might be his freshness that will reinvigorate the place. As so often, the proof of the pudding will be in the programming…

1 Comment

  • TRPW commented

    on Wednesday 13th January 2010 at 11:31 pm

    Of the dozen or so productions I’ve seen directed by Edward Hall, three have been new plays by living writers — one at Hampstead, one at the Royal Court Upstairs and one in the West End (Calico) — so I’d quibble about him having “practically no experience of working with living writers”. He hasn’t enjoyed as much success with new plays as he has with classics, especially Shakespeare. But it isn't really his ability (or lack thereof) to direct new plays that is at issue so much as his ability to pick new plays and assemble creative teams to bring out the best in them. In that he is something of an unknown quantity.

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