Carl and Marilynn Thoma Chair
Acclaimed theater, television, and film director Edward Hall returns to Chicago Shakespeare to take on the role of Artistic Director, Carl and Marilynn Thoma Chair. The appointment marks a homecoming for Hall, who has maintained close ties with the company since he directed the Rose Rage trilogy of Henry VI, Parts 1, 2, and 3 at Chicago Shakespeare in 2003, garnering significant critical acclaim and the Jeff Award for Best Direction. This epic theatrical event went on to play the Duke on 42nd Street, marking Chicago Shakespeare’s off-Broadway and NYC debut. In February 2024, he is set to direct this season’s Richard III starring 2023 Tony Award-nominee Katy Sullivan in the Courtyard Theater.
Son of British theater legend and Royal Shakespeare Company founder Sir Peter Hall, Edward Hall has built his love of Shakespeare around original interpretations of the Bard’s plays, making this a central focus of his own career. In 1997, he founded the ensemble-based Propeller Theatre Company, performing Shakespeare’s plays in London’s West End and on tour to Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the United States, and beyond. He has directed Julius Caesar, Henry V, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona for the Royal Shakespeare Company; and his production of The Taming of the Shrew was included alongside Barbara Gaines’ Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 as part of the RSC’s Complete Works Festival in 2006/07. The New York Times Magazine raved of his career, “what Edward Hall seems to do is work at the cellular level, cracking the DNA code of the text and replicating it onstage.”
Hall led London’s Hampstead Theatre for nearly a decade as Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive, where he was known for ground-breaking work, including the Olivier Award-winning Sunny Afternoon, Chariots of Fire, The Judas Kiss, and Ecstasy—all of which transferred to the West End. In 2019, he staged the UK premiere of the Pulitzer prize-winning Cost of Living, starring Adrian Lester and Katy Sullivan. Following his appointment to Hampstead Theatre in 2010, Hall took the company from the brink of bankruptcy through a dramatic transformation into one of the nation’s most successful theaters for new work development—producing over 100 world premieres. While at Hampstead, he championed wider accessibility in the theater industry: he launched the Downstairs incubator space for early career playwrights, rolled out discount ticket programs, young writers’ programs, and as far back as 2013 began innovating with “freestreaming” on global digital platforms.
His extensive film and television credits include 2019’s Blithe Spirit starring Dame Judi Dench, Dan Stevens, Isla Fisher, and Leslie Mann, as well as Gentleman Jack, Restless starring Hayley Atwell and Charlotte Rampling, Partners in Crime, The Durrells, and the season finale for series 4 of the resoundingly successful Downton Abbey. Upcoming releases include the Sky TV holiday film Joy To The World, starring Timothy Spall as Father Christmas.