PROVIDENCE – Adrian Hall, the founding artistic director of the Trinity Repertory Company, died at his home in Van, Texas, on Feb. 4 at the age of 95, the theater company announced Monday.
Hall, a New York-based director originally from Texas, came to Trinity Rep in 1963. He was recruited by a group of Rhode Islanders interested in forming a professional regional theater in Providence.
The company began performing under Hall’s leadership in 1964 at Trinity United Methodist Church on Broad Street. He left Trinity Rep in 1989 to serve as the artistic leader of the Dallas Theater Center in Texas and become a freelance director and teacher.
“Adrian Hall was a visionary artist, not only in the way he challenged the aesthetic limits of the stage, but also in the challenging subject matter he produced as artistic director,” Trinity Artistic Director Curt Columbus said in a news release. “With Adrian at the helm of Trinity from the late 1960s onward, the work onstage addressed topics that were rarely discussed in public forums at the time – the persecution of gays and lesbians, the legacy of slavery and its impact on how we deal with race in America, the limits of democracy and freedom, and so much more. His boundary-breaking vision for the theater as a public square is the greatest legacy that he left us, one that we will continue to carry forward.”
Trinity Rep grew and thrived during the two decades under Hall’s leadership. In 1966, the company received funding from the newly founded National Endowment for the Arts to support the landmark Project Discovery program, which allowed Rhode Island high school students to attend professional live theater for free. In 1968, Trinity became the first American theater company to perform at the Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland.
In 1973, the company purchased and renovated Emery’s Majestic Theater on Washington Street and which now is Trinity Rep.’s current home, the Lederer Theater Center. Hall laid the groundwork for Trinity Rep’s commitment to actor and director training, starting the Trinity Rep Conservatory in 1977, which later became the Brown University / Trinity Rep MFA program.
In 1981 the company received the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater Company. During the next decade, the theater produced four television productions for PBS, toured India and Syria, and continued to show a strong commitment to the development of new works.
Hall’s impact is still present at Trinity Rep. His annual production of “A Christmas Carol” has been part of Rhode Island’s holiday tradition for more than four decades. His vision of creating a brand-new production each year with a new cast, director and design team has led the company to consistently produce one of the most highly attended productions of the show in the country.
In addition, Hall developed the Trinity Rep aesthetic with longtime collaborator Eugene Lee, who remains the company’s resident scenic designer.