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National Theatre Blog

Sir Peter Shaffer, CBE

1926-2016

Peter Shaffer in rehearsal

Sir Peter Shaffer, CBE, in rehearsal. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Sir Peter Shaffer, CBE. He was an extraordinary writer, closely associated with the National Theatre. The Royal Hunt of the Sun was the first premiere of a new play ever produced by the National Theatre Company. It was first presented at the Chichester Festival and subsequently at the Old Vic in 1964. His next play, Black Comedy, made its debut the following year with a cast that brought together Maggie Smith, Derek Jacobi and Albert Finney.

Other celebrated works premiered by the National Theatre include Equus (1973) and Amadeus (1979); both had long runs in the West End and on Broadway. Amadeus was made into a film and went on to win 8 Oscars in 1985, including Best Picture and a Screenwriting Oscar for Peter.

The Royal Hunt of the Sun was revived at the National Theatre in 2006 by Sir Trevor Nunn and in October Amadeus will return to the Olivier stage in the first NT revival since its 1979 premiere.

Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre, said:

Peter Shaffer was one of the great writers of his generation and the National Theatre was enormously lucky to have had such a fruitful and creative relationship with him. The plays he leaves behind are an enduring legacy.