September 20, 1966
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
An extremely gifted and prolific playwright and screenwriter, Lee Hall garnered an Oscar nomination for his feature debut effort, the crowd-pleasing "Billy Elliot" (2000). Born and raised in the coal mining region, Hall drew on personal memories to flesh out this tale of a miner's son who has aspirations to become a ballet dancer. Set against the backdrop of a 1984 strike that nearly economically crippled the area, "Billy Elliot" functioned on several levels. It was at its core a family story but the scenes of the striking miners served as an historical reminder to British audiences and an education to those in other countries.Hall began to develop an interest in dramatic writing while attending Cambridge (where he first met "Billy"'s director Stephen Daldry). While on holiday to the USA in 1993, he fell in love and remained in NYC, beginning work on several projects that would later reach fruition. Upon his return to England, Hall enjoyed his first taste of success with the radio plays "I Luv You Jimmy Spud" (1996, about a boy who forms a relationship with the Angel Gabriel in the hopes of saving his dying father) and "Spoonface Steinberg" (1997, a monologue by a nine-year-old autistic girl stricken with leukemia). These two works established dominant themes that have flowed through his work. His characters tend to be from the north of England and belong to the working classes. Additionally, Hall approaches the stories with an unwavering sense of honesty that is laced with benevolence; no matter how bleak a situation, there is always hope.Hall's output has been so varied that he defies categorization. Many believed only a woman could pen the empathetic "Spoonface Steinberg" while others could not fathom that the same person wrote the ribald comic tale of "Cooking With Elvis," a 1999 award-winner about a paraplegic Presley impersonator and his dysfunctional family. Nor was it likely the same individual was behind "The Student Prince" (BBC, 1997), a sort of modern twist on "Cyrano de Bergerac" featuring a naive royal and his clever bodyguard. Yet, all emanated from his pen.In addition to his original work, Hall has also carved a niche as an acclaimed translator and has enjoyed success with his stage adaptations of such varied plays as Buchner's "Leonce and Lena," Goldoni's "The Servant of Two Masters," and Brecht's "Mother Courage." He also has continued to create new works for the radio ("Child of the Rain," "Child of the Snow") and the stage (the monologue "Two's Company"). Hall adapted several of his radio dramas for the stage, and although he worked on the film script for the screen version of "I Luv You Jimmy Spud" (called "Gabriel and Me" 2001), he was reportedly unhappy with the finished project. After the worldwide success of "Billy Elliot," it is likely a situation like that won't occur again.