Roger Hall (playwright)
Roger Leighton Hall|
17 January 1939
Woodfall, Wells, Essex, England
|Alma mater||University College School|
|Related to||Pip Hall (daughter)|
|Debut works||Glide Time (1976)|
|Magnum opus||Middle Age Spread (1978)|
|Works with||Philip Norman|
Roger Leighton Hall CNZM QSO (born 17 January 1939) is one of New Zealand's most successful playwrights, arguably best known for comedies that carry a vein of social criticism and feelings of pathos.
Hall was born in Essex, England, and educated at London's University College School from 1952 until 1955, when he embarked on a career in insurance. He emigrated to New Zealand in 1957 and continued to work in insurance, also performing in amateur theatre in the city of Wellington. He continued to act while attending Wellington Teachers’ College and Victoria University of Wellington; fellow actor John Clarke praised his impression of then Prime Minister Keith Holyoake as the template for all others. Hall began writing plays for children while teaching, which included a spell at Berhampore School, Wellington. He became a naturalised New Zealander in 1980.
Hall began writing for television in the 1960s – over the next four decades his television output would grow to include one-off plays, documentaries, pioneering New Zealand television series Buck House and Pukemanu and time on political satire Spin Doctors. Alongside his writing, he appeared on-screen with actor Grant Tilly on 60s sketch show In View of the Circumstances.
Hall's best-known work in New Zealand is probably his breakthrough play Glide Time (1976), which depicts the frustrations and petty triumphs of a group of so-called 'public servants' working in a government office. It gave rise to a radio show, a one-off television adaptation, then popular 1980s television series Gliding On. A sequel play and television series, both called Market Forces also followed, set in the "restructured" public service environment of New Zealand's post-Rogernomics era.
The characters of The Share Club (1987, before the Stock Market crash) and After the Crash (1988) were seen on television series Neighbourhood Watch.
Hall's best-known works internationally are Middle-Age Spread (1978, revised 1980) and Conjugal Rites (1991). Middle Age Spread revolves around a headmaster who has an affair with a young teacher. The tragi-comedy had a 15-month run in the West End and won the Comedy of the Year Award (Society of London Theatre) and in 1979 became one of the first New Zealand plays to be transformed into a feature film. Grant Tilly starred, as he had when the play debuted in Wellington. Conjugal Rites was made into a situation comedy series in the UK starring Gwen Taylor and Michael Williams .
In recent years, his plays Who Wants to be 100? (Anyone Who's 99) (2008), Four Flat Whites in Italy (2009), and A Shortcut to Happiness (2011) had hugely successful runs throughout New Zealand. His show about grandparenting, You Can Always Hand Them Back (2012), has songs by British performer/songwriter Peter Skellern, and has been performed throughout New Zealand and had a season in the UK.
Hall has had many plays, series, and talks on radio, including The Dream Factory for the BBC.
Hall has contributed to the arts in several other ways. Most notably he organised the first NZ Writers' Week, held in Dunedin in 1989, where twenty-nine NZ writers appeared, NZ plays were performed, and various exhibitions linked to local writing were held. Thousands of people attended, and another Writers’ Week was held two years later, and the event continues in Dunedin in a modified form every two years.
In 2005, he arranged for a scene set on Takapuna Beach on Christmas Day in the 1930s from Bruce Mason's one-man play The End of the Golden Weather to be performed on Takapuna Beach on Christmas Day. Actor Stephen Lovatt does the one-man show that is presented every year. It has now become an established tradition, with up to 500 people attending the free event. OXFAM benefits from a collection and Lovatt donates his fee to the same charity.
In the 1980s, Hall set up a society to improve children’s television (Monitor) and has also served on many arts boards and organizations including NZ Literary Fund Advisory Committee, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Chairman of Fortune Theatre Board, Frank Sargeson Trust, Janet Frame Eden Street Trust, and Governor of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.
Hall was a Burns Fellow in 1977 and in 1978. In the 1987 New Year Honours, he was made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for community service. Victoria University made him an Honorary Doctor of Literature in 1996. He was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2003 Queen's Birthday Honours, for services as a playwright. In 2006 he was the subject of documentary Who Laughs Last.
Hall's autobiography, Bums on seats, was published by Penguin Books in 1998.
He has a son and a daughter. His daughter, Pip Hall, is a playwright and television producer.
- "New Zealand Writers Roger Hall". The New Zealand Book Council. 2009. Retrieved 3 February 2009.
- "New Zealand, naturalisations, 1843–1981". Ancestry.com Operations. 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2015. (Subscription required (help)).
- "Roger Hall". NZOnScreen.com. March 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
- Conjugal Rites
- London Gazette (supplement), No. 50766, 30 December 1986. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
- Queen's Birthday Honours List 2003. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
- "Who Laughs Last". Point of View Productions. 23 December 2008. Retrieved 3 February 2009.
- "Variety Artists Club of New Zealand Scrolls of Honour". Archived from the original on 17 October 2014.
- "Previous winners". Creative New Zealand. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- "Roger Hall" NZ On Screen. March 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
- Roger Hall bibliography at the New Zealand Literature File