Northern Broadsides today announced that their founder and artistic director Barrie Rutter OBE will step down in April 2018 after leading the company for twenty-five years. He has cited lack of suitable Arts Council funding as a reason for his departure.
Rutter founded Northern Broadsides in 1992 and under his artistic leadership the company have become one of the UK’s leading touring theatre companies and produced over 70 productions.
Over the last twenty-five years Rutter has overseen many of Northern Broadsides’ big successes including casting Lenny Henry in Othello and Mat Fraser in Broadsides’ most recent production Richard III as part of Hull 2017, as well as the acclaimed productions of The Wars of the Roses, Rutherford & Son (directed by Jonathan Miller) and the award-winning An August Bank Holiday Lark. In 2015 Barrie was awarded the OBE for Services to Drama.
Rutter’s final productions for Northern Broadsides will be the forthcoming world premiere of For Love or Money, Blake Morrison’s new adaptation of Alain Rene Lesage’s French comedy Turcaret which will open at the Viaduct Theatre in Halifax in September and then tour until December 2017. In January 2018, he will direct the Shakespeare’s Globe and Northern Broadsides co-production of The Captive Queen at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
On leaving his post, Barrie Rutter said:
“Having failed to lead the team in securing a long overdue increase in Arts Council funding, I have decided that after 25 wonderful years it is the right time for me to stand down. I leave the Supporters of Northern Broadsides in the hands of a robust and creative staff.”
A spokesperson for the Board said: ‘The company recognises the significant contribution Barrie Rutter has made to theatre, the arts in general and the lives of his colleagues over the years. In establishing Northern Broadsides 25 years ago, he created a vibrant and visionary organisation that is committed to ensuring that his legacy survives into the future. The Board of Northern Broadsides are delighted to be continuing as an Arts Council England NPO organisation and are looking forward to working with an extremely talented creative team over the coming years. Barrie Rutter will be missed both on and off the Broadsides stage, but we wish him well in his next adventures.’
Northern Broadsides is a unique theatre company with a true northern voice. Its work is characterised by a high degree of theatrical inventiveness and robust performances from a large ensemble cast of multi-talented and charismatic northern actors who all perform in their natural voices. For the past 25 years, it has delighted audiences here and abroad with a growing classic repertoire that has won the company many awards and a loyal following worldwide.
Born in 1946, the son of a Hull fish worker, he grew up in a two-up two-down in the fish dock area of Hull. At school, an English teacher frogmarched him into the school play because he had “the gob for it”, and feeling at home on stage, Rutter chose his future direction. There followed many years in the National Youth Theatre culminating in The Apprentices’ by Peter Terson – a role specially written for him, a practice to be repeated later in his career.
Seasons at the RSC in Stratford, London and Europe completed the 1970s. In 1980, he joined the National Theatre, a formative period. He met and worked closely with a poet who was to become his guru, Tony Harrison. Rutter performed in three of Harrison’s adaptations, all written for the Northern voice: The Mysteries, The Oresteia, and The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus. In Trackers, the part of Silenus was written especially for Rutter. It was this experience that germinated the idea for Northern Broadsides which he has led for the past 25 years.
In 2015, he was awarded the OBE for Services to Drama