1982 National Theatre London

About Sir Peter Hall

The National Theatre lit up at night

The National Theatre lit up at night

Sir Peter Hall is arguably the most notable director to have worked on The Importance of Being Earnest. His illustrious career took off in his early twenties when he directed the English premiere of Samuel Beckett’s masterpiece Waiting for Godot. He quickly established himself as a talented director at various theatres including the Arts Theatre and the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, working with actors such as Laurence Olivier and Peggy Ashcroft. Hall then founded the Royal Shakespeare Company at the young age of 29 and stayed there until the late 1960s, further proving himself to be a cornerstone of Britian’s cultural heritage. He is perhaps most known for his leadership of the National Theatre, where he was director from 1973 to 1988, and for his turbulent resignation over public funding cuts to the arts.  During his time at the National Theatre he directed many original plays and adaptations, including the 1982 production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

1982 National Theatre London production of The Importance of Being Earnest

In Sir Peter Hall’s production, Martin Jarvis played Jack and Nigel Havers played Algernon; both actors return to the current production at the Harold Pinter Theatre. We’re perhaps encouraged to imagine that the actors have never left their roles and the Bunbury Company of Players have joined them in their never-ending performance. The 1982 cast also included Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell, who went on to play the same role in the 2002 film, as well as Zoë Wanamaker and Anna Massey. Dench played Lady Bracknell as a purse, uptight character which gave her another dynamic following the braying tones of Edith Evans.

Anna Massey, Zoë Wanamaker and Judi Dench

Anna Massey as Miss Prism (left), Zoë Wanamaker as Gwendolen (centre) and Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell (right)

The full cast listing:

Martin Jarvis as John Worthing
Nigel Havers as Algernon Moncrieff
Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell
Zoë Wanamaker as Gwendolen
Elizabeth Garvie as Cecily Cardew
Anna Massey as Miss Prism
Paul Rogers as Canon Chasuble
Alan Haywood as the Footman
Brian Kent as Lane
John Gill as Merriman

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