Peter Shaffer Estate

Peter Shaffer Estate Portrait


Peter Shaffer's first play, THE SALT LAND, was written in 1951 and produced for television in 1955. Subsequently his comedy, THE PRODIGAL FATHER, was produced on radio and BALANCE OF TERROR was televised in 1957.

His play, FIVE FINGER EXERCISE, was directed by John Gielgud in the West End in 1958, transferred to New York in 1959, and was followed by a film version in 1962.

THE PRIVATE EAR and THE PUBLIC EYE, two comedies, were staged as a double bill in the West End in 1962. His next play, THE ROYAL HUNT OF THE SUN, was produced by the National Theatre at Chichester, and subsequently at the Old Vic and in New York. It has since been adapted for both film and opera, and was revived at the National Theatre in 2006.

EQUUS was first produced by the National Theatre at the Old Vic, and then in the West End and on Broadway where it ran for over 1200 performances. It was revived in the West End to great acclaim in 2007 and subsequently ran on Broadway. It was also made into a film which earned Peter an academy award nomination.

His multi award-winning play AMADEUS, opened at the National Theatre in 1979, and on Broadway in 1980 (running for over 1000 performances), and then transferred to the West End. The 1984 film won Peter Shaffer one of its eight Academy Awards. AMADEUS will be revived at the National Theatre in Autumn 2016.

LETTICE AND LOVAGE ran for nearly three years in the West End. In 1990, LETTICE AND LOVAGE opened on Broadway with Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack both winning Tony awards for their roles.

Peter Shaffer's other plays include BLACK COMEDY (commissioned by Sir Laurence Olivier at the National Theatre as a partner piece for Strindberg’s MISS JULIE), WHITE LIES (reworked into WHITE LIARS), THE BATTLE OF SHIRVINGS, YONADAB, WHOM DO I HAVE THE HONOUR OF ADDRESSING? (for radio), and THE GIFT OF THE GORGON.

In 1994, Peter was Visiting Professor of Contemporary Drama at St. Catherine's College, Oxford. He was awarded the CBE in 1987 and was knighted in 2001.

22 February 2019

‘This is a play for our time!’ ★★★★★ Peter Shaffer’s EQUUS Soars

‘This is a play for our time!’  ★★★★★ Peter Shaffer’s EQUUS Soars

English Touring Theatre’s thrilling new production of Peter Shaffer’s EQUUS, directed by Ned Bennett, has received rave reviews from critics and audiences, performed at Theatre Royal Stratford East before heading out on national tour. Composition and Sound Design by MLR’s Giles Thomas. 

What’s On Stage ★★★★★

‘Tantalisingly situated at a point somewhere between Dysart's feverish nightmare and Alan's guilty orgasm, this is haunting, engrossing theatre. Troubling, rich and riveting, it's a must-see.’

‘Giles Thomas' melancholic, supple music and sound design contribute immeasurably to the uncompromising overall vision.’

The Observer ★★★★★

'You will not see a better production of this grim masterpiece.'

Broadway World UK ★★★★★

'Everything about the creative vision works. Bennett's direction is as precise and playful as you'd expect, Giles Thomas' sound unnerves you in your seat, and Jessica Hung Han Yun's lighting is exceptional - you could even go as far to say that it's some of the best use of stage lighting I've ever seen.

The Telegraph ★★★★★

'It is testament to the unique power of Shaffer’s script, and Bennett’s deft revival, that almost half a century on from its first performance, Equus continues to provoke shivers.'

Evening Standard ★★★★★

'What a magnificent evening this is. Director Ned Bennett, in a co-production with English Touring Theatre, revolutionises Peter Shaffer’s can-be-ponderous 1973 modern classic about a disturbed teenager and turns it into an intoxicating event that drips with physicality and theatricality.' 

The Stage ★★★★

‘Just as the play looks at the futility of putting the square peg of Strang’s mind into the round hole of ‘normal’ society, so Bennett takes this carefully structured, well-written play and tries to make it fit with a visual aesthetic to which it’s not naturally suited – the effect is stark and striking, and really quite brilliant.’ 

The Guardian ★★★★

'Directors can also renew a familiar work – which is precisely what Ned Bennett does in his exhilarating staging of Peter Shaffer’s modern classic. I was present at the first performance in 1973 but, without violating the text, Bennett’s production has enabled me to see the play through fresh eyes.'

The Times ★★★★

'Predominantly, though, we are put in the thick of a story that asks whether it is God, shame or repressed sexuality that prompts an extraordinary act. This is Equus with the reins off.'

London Theatre ★★★★

‘But that's not the only innovation and provocation in Bennett's boldly stripped-back, theatrically intense and focused production. With billowing white curtains surrounding the playing area, it only employs minimal props and set pieces to establish locations and mood, with the help of Jessica Hung Han Yin's piercing (and occasionally blinding) lighting and Giles Thomas's soundscape.’

The Arts Desk  ★★★★

‘But it's the sheer theatrical excitement of Bennett's vision — sometimes ferociously passionate, sometimes movingly gentle, and, at the first act climax, absolutely billowing with grandeur — that stays with you. Yes, this is a play for our time!’ 

27 January 2017

Sir Peter Shaffer Memorial Gala at the National Theatre

Sir Peter Shaffer Memorial Gala at the National Theatre

A Memorial Gala to celebrate the life and work of Sir Peter Shaffer will be held at the Olivier Theatre, National Theatre, Upper Ground, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX at 2pm on 30th March 2017.

To apply for seats please email:

27 January 2017

Peter Shaffer’s AMADEUS will return to the National in 2018

Peter Shaffer’s AMADEUS will return to the National in 2018

The National have announced the return of Michael Longhurst's sell-out production of Peter Shaffer's AMADEUS, with Lucian Msamati and Adam Gillen reprising their roles from January 2018. 

31 October 2016

Peter Shaffer’s AMADEUS open at The National Theatre

Peter Shaffer’s AMADEUS open at The National Theatre

Peter Shaffer’s iconic play had its premiere at the National Theatre in 1979, winning multiple Olivier and Tony awards.

This new production, directed by Michael Longhurst, is given live orchestral accompaniment by Southbank Sinfonia, and stars Lucian Msamati and Adam Gillen.

Imogen Knight is Choreographer and Paul Arditti is Sound Designer. The show will run until the 1st February 2017.

The Telegraph ★★★★★

“a note-perfect production by rising director Michael Longhurst that gives it a fresh, vital and musically inventive new reading, one which fully confirms its classic status.”

“we hear the excerpts of Mozart’s masterpieces in gorgeous splendour” 

“One big sadness of the night – that Shaffer, who died in June, wasn’t able to see his masterpiece in its latest incarnation. I feel sure he’d have approved.”

The Independent ★★★★★

“a thrillingly fresh and imaginative revival” 

“The Southbank Sinfonia are integrated into the world of the play to stunning effect” 

“Longhurst has let the air of today into Amadeus in bravura fashion.”

The Stage ★★★★★ 

“captures the glory of Shaffer’s writing, its wit and agility, its intellectual richness, its impishness. It’s a feast of a play and the cast eats its fill.” 

“This revival, while far from reverential, feels genuinely celebratory. It is at once both vulgar and divine. It makes you appreciate Shaffer’s genius while also reflecting on the nature of genius, the sacred aspect of creativity and the possibility of achieving immortality through art.”

“The Southbank Sinfonia (which also performed at the National in Every Good Boy Deserves Favour) is brilliantly integrated into the world of the play.”

Timeout ★★★★★


“There is much else that is great here, from Imogen Knight’s nifty choreography – particularly in finding weird new places for the orchestra to stand”

“Shaffer, who died this year, was an advocate of something called ‘total theatre’, a mix of acting, mime, music and more – basically chucking everything but the kitchen sink at a play to create an epic, overwhelming, symphonic effect. We get all that here, but more besides” 

Broadway World ★★★★

“a triumphant return”

“There are modern visual nods, from Krispy Kreme doughnuts and buzzing phones to Mozart sporting Doc Martens with his garish frock coats (great touches by Chloe Lamford), as well as a hedonistic club vibe in Imogen Knight's choreography.”

“pulsating, immediate tragedy” 

“A note-perfect revival.”

The Guardian ★★★★ 

“Peter Shaffer whose death in June is marked by this revival of his most popular play, once wrote that he hoped Amadeus would “enjoy a vigorous life in many differing productions”. His wish is certainly granted by Michael Longhurst’s production which turns it into an epic piece of music-theatre.”

“it reminds us of Shaffer’s talent for creating memorable theatrical spectacles.”

“a stunning piece of theatre”

The Times ★★★★ 

“I left the theatre humming the latter, so beautiful and tragic that you cannot help be moved. Bravo.”

“These 21 musicians are the backbone of this production, scattering and re-forming throughout, like some sort of murmuration of musically gifted starlings.”

What’s On Stage ★★★★

“What a homecoming this is. Four months after his death, Peter Shaffer's operatic epic returns to the stage on which it started - and in some style too.” 

“it yanks a masterful play into the present – a new generation let loose on a timeless classic.”

“It's a real crowd-pleaser, Shaffer's play: a masterpiece that makes up its own rules.” 

“Imogen Knight turns the orchestra into a dark, twitchy chorus.”

“At times, it is literally breathtaking. Its visual beauty holds you in suspense, then the music cuts through and the world seems to stop”

Evening Standard ★★★★

“A soaring song of genius and jealousy” 

“Sir Peter Shaffer’s rich and racy play remains an absorbing portrait of the fanatical rivalry between Mozart and Salieri”

British Theatre Guide

“almost perfect in every regard.” 

“There seems little doubt that Amadeus will be one of the big hits of the autumn and anybody in love with classical music, eccentric characters or a fantastic yarn about jealousy and genius should not miss out.”

The Arts Desk ★★★★


“pulses and shimmers and trills and occasionally roars with the pleasure of great music. At some moments it is almost overwhelming; at other it is quietly moving.” 

“The whole cast and ensemble inject a terrific energy into the big set pieces (parties, operas, concert scenes) that make this a highly memorable evening”

The Reviews Hub ★★★★

“we can hear the music for ourselves and the collision of opposing forces is thrilling." 

“profoundly entertaining.”  

Libby Purves 

“It was time Rufus Norris’ tenure at the national saw one of those landmark, memorable opening nights: two thirds of the audience on their feet calling back a huge ensemble…Now we have that great moment.”

“under director Michael Longhurst, designer Chloe Lamford and (not least)  Imogen Knight’s movement direction,  the play gets everything it needs for perfection and awe.”


“It’s wonderful. That the author died this year before he could see this production is painful to think.”

Financial Times ★★★★

“the drama becomes as towering as the music.”

London  ★★★★

“A giddy, stylish and opulent revival of total music theatre at its most exciting.”

The Upcoming ★★★★

“what truly makes Amadeus stand apart is the integration of the sublime Southbank Sinfonia on stage”

Radio Times

“Amadeus is an epic tale but director Michael Longhurst never lets the action flag and wrings every drop of emotion from Shaffer's dark script. I for one will never listen to Mozart in quite the same way again.”

Gay Times 

“Without doubt, this is a brave and interesting production that certainly packs a punch.”  


“The production is something of a memorial to playwright Peter Shaffer, who died in June, aged 90. But what a raunchy, spectacular, and amusing a memorial it is.” 

“studded with great lines” 

“a triumph”

The Hollywood Reporter

“spectacular revival” 

“stylistically bold Amadeus is an imaginative and mostly satisfying grand-scale reboot” 

“applies extra gloss and glitter to Shaffer's tragicomic psychodrama without compromising its sardonic, self-aware wit.”

“sumptuous revival finds some fruitful new connections between form and content.”

Culture Whisper 

“a bold, boisterous, and masterful production.”

“high drama and symphonic storytelling done at its best.”

“History, legend, scandal, and music make up the components of Shaffer’s prodigious script.”

“It is a searing meditation on genius, rivalry, and what it means to be immortal.”

“Amadeus is not merely a reproduction or a homecoming, but a soaring and spirited revival that is unmissable.”

06 September 2016

Peter Shaffer’s AMADEUS starts rehearsals at The National Theatre

Peter Shaffer’s AMADEUS starts rehearsals at The National Theatre

Shaffer’s iconic play AMADEUS, directed by Michael Longhurst, will now run until 26 January with further dates to be announced. The cast includes Sarah Amankwah, Hammed Animashaun, Geoffrey Beevers, Fleur de Bray, Karla Crome, Tom Edden, Adam Gillen, Matthew Hargreaves, Andrew Macbean, Alexandra Mathie, Lucian Msamati, Eamonn Mulhall, Robyn Allegra Parton, Hugh Sachs, Eleanor Sutton, Wendy Dawn Thompson, and Peter Willcock.

Amadeus is part of the Travelex £15 season with hundreds of seats at £15 for every performance. Amadeus is presented in association with Southbank Sinfonia.

Imogen Knight is Choreographer and Paul Arditti is Sound Designer on the show.

06 June 2016

Sir Peter Levin Shaffer, CBE (15th May 1926 – 6th June 2016 )

Sir Peter Levin Shaffer, CBE (15th May 1926 – 6th June 2016 )

It is with great sorrow that we must announce the death of our friend and client, Sir Peter Shaffer CBE whilst on a visit to Ireland with friends and family. He was 90.

Peter passed away peacefully at 05:30 this morning, 6th June 2016, at the Marymount Hospice in County Cork, with his niece, Cressida at his side. His great friend and American agent, Dennis Aspland remained with him in Ireland throughout his short illness.

Over a long and exceptional career Peter wrote more than eighteen plays including: Amadeus, Equus, Black Comedy, Lettice and Lovage, The Royal Hunt of the Sun and Five Finger Exercise and much of his working life was inextricably linked to the National Theatre, for which several of his plays were written and first produced

The recipient of multiple Tony, Olivier, Golden Globe, New York Drama Desk, Evening Standard and countless other international nominations and awards, Peter was twice nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Adapted Screenplay category for the adaptations of his plays: Equus and Amadeus, winning for Amadeus in 1984

Peter was awarded the CBE in 1987 and made Knight Bachelor in 2001. In 2007 he was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.

Peter lived for many years in New York City but loved regularly to visit London and Ballymaloe House in County Cork in particular, near where he died earlier today. He had been struggling with his health for some time but was both determined and delighted to have been able to celebrate his 90th birthday in Ireland last month with close family and friends.

He is survived by his brother Brian, nephews Milo and Mark (Brian’s children), and nieces Cressida and Claudia, whose
father and Peter's twin, the playwright and screenwriter Anthony Shaffer died in 2001.

Peter was one of the true Greats of British Theatre as well as a wonderful friend, wickedly funny man and sparkling raconteur whose lifelong passion for his own art was matched by his love for music, painting and architecture.

His close family and friends would like to extend their sincere thanks to the staff who cared for him so well at Bon Secours Hospital and Marymount Hospice, Cork.

There will be a private funeral in London shortly and details of a memorial ceremony will be announced in due course

We shall all miss him terribly.

Sir Peter Levin Shaffer, CBE (15th May 1926 – 6th June 2016 )

Rupert Lord

Macnaughton Lord Representation , London

Dennis Aspland

Aspland Management, New York

*This statement was revised on 13 June 2016

26 January 2016

FIVE FINGER EXERCISE opens at the Print Room

FIVE FINGER EXERCISE opens at the Print Room

Jamie Glover directs this stunning London revival of Peter Shaffer’s powerful family drama, with Sound Design by Peter Rice and Movement Direction by Imogen Knight. Playing at the Print Room until the 13th of February.

Financial Times ★★★★

“Jamie Glover’s cracking revival” 

“Glover’s staging is driven by rich, compelling performances” 

“Glover’s production conveys the deep loneliness of all these characters”

“Shaffer tears apart drawing room domesticity with the sort of devastating emotional truths explored by American dramatists such as Miller, Williams, Albee and O’Neill.”

The Stage ★★★★

“There’s a lot going on beneath the surface of Peter Shaffer’s 1958 play.”

“a psychologically layered piece of writing” 

“eloquently captures a post-war world on the turn and says much about the complexity of immigrant identity, the tangle of families, and the shifting, intricate relationships that so often exist between children and their parents.” 

What’s On Stage ★★★★

“Shaffer's Five Finger Exercise, first performed in 1958, has all the emotional turmoil of The Deep Blue Sea with a liberal dose of Osborne-style anger. It's very much a play of its time.”

“This was Shaffer's first success, and it's easy to see why. There's an even-handedness in the way he treats each character with sympathy, but he doesn't draw back from exposing the raw pain festering under their supposedly comfortable middle-class existence.”

“Jamie Glover's production is almost note perfect, and the cast are uniformly excellent.”

“This is a richly deserved revival”

British ★★★★ 

“Director Jamie Glover brings us this excellent revival of Peter Shaffer’s earliest stage success” 

“Walter gives voice to Shaffer’s simple message: ‘You must forgive your parents being average and wrong when you worshipped them once.’ For as long as there are families, this poignant script will resonate with them.” 

“a near perfect restoration” 

The Evening Standard ★★★★

“it’s terrific to see a long-overdue revival of this finely judged 1958 drama, which marked Peter “Amadeus” Shaffer’s first big hit.”


New York Times

“the most revelatory production of this still-young theatrical year.”

“Jamie Glover, generates a considerable dramatic charge from this slice of theatrical esoterica”

“Mr. Glover then lifts the lid on passions that simply won’t be contained.”

Time Out 

“my god are Shaffer’s characters tricky little things - rich, complex, working with and against each other in endlessly shifting ways.”

“a worthy revival of a clearly stunning play”

British Theatre Guide

“a highly watchable play with fine performances that reminds us of a world that no longer exists.”