Kirsty Young's castaway is the actor and theatre director Barrie Rutter. He is the founder and artistic director of the touring theatre company Northern Broadsides. There was nothing in his background to suggest he'd spend his life on stage. He was brought up by his father, who worked nights unloading fish in Hull. There were no books in his childhood home and he discovered his passion for theatre whilst at secondary school with the help of his English teacher who spotted his talent for performing. His first role was as the Mayor in Gogol's, 'The Government Inspector'. He was a member of the National Youth Theatre where he appeared with Helen Mirren and went on to study at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. After a career in the National Theatre and the RSC, in 1992 he founded Northern Broadsides which stages Shakespeare plays, other classical works and new writing with the aim of presenting "Northern voices, doing classical work in non-velvet spaces". Producer: Sarah Taylor.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hello, I'm kirsty young thanks, four dilating, this podcast of desert island discs from BBC radio for four right reasons. The music choices are shorter than in the radio broadcast for information about the programme. Please visit bbc dotcom, dont uk slash radio for The. my castaway this week is the actor in directive bury rotter founder, and artistic director of the northern broadsides theatre company he puts on plays in non velvet spaces with northern voices Ranges from the classics, two new dramas and the locations can be anywhere from skipped and cattle market to a roman amphitheatre in Austria. His impatience,
swift convention might be something to do with his beginnings, although the eldest of four boys growing up in how he never knew his siblings living with his father, a fish porter in a house with one bedroom and no books. Loved boxing and rugby till the moment aged fifteen, when an english teacher persuaded the goby russia to take part in it cool play from there. It was onto the national you theatre, where he says he fell in love with rock n roll of shakespeare's text, one of his most. recent successes was costing and directing Lenny Henry as othello to widespread rave reviews. And sell out performances. However, he as of himself I'm still a front of cloth merchant. I do love To be on a state, I, like the renewal of fiercer every night, so welcome very of utter the renewal and I'm presuming on also probably the presence of an
Audience are to the most important things about that: yes, but also the ephemeral nature of theater. I love the fact that it goes here and it disappears and you learn from it, but you can't carry it with you, because the next audience is always knew. That's the real magic to me now. In broadsides would set up in nineteen. Ninety two- and as I mentioned, I I I think they were your words are certainly in the description but being set up this set. You know northern voices doing sometimes classical work, but not always in non Spain is got a bit more about that phrase. I mean in the beginning, with a non velvets basis, because that was the inspiration for setting up a company, and it was there excitements of doing a classical piece by tony harrison in front of it. Now shrill sounding audience. I'm using my own vice northern broadsides, then your company does it matter. If people I mean, can people work in it.
actors not yet without having a northern accent. Yes, yes, yes, it's not that rigid! First, I met a joke About it, you know, like muhammad Ali said, what's my name, what's my name over where no them road, I'd where northern where's your passport and that's daft. That silly can I sought from about the performs skipped in cattle market. There were amazed because ass. These are the same yorkshire the farmers, you know we talk about diversity. Now back in the nineties Diversity was yorkshire, hill farming, who bore to sheep on wednesday and in the same ring the next night, he bought shakespeare from those anthony cleopatra. romeo and juliet the mist. Trees in these were people who never went to the theater, and so you know for sure that they were your audience. Did you talk to me? I am not without wonderful letter that I got that from a farmer who said damage look. What you did last night, I'm sorry look I come to you next one cause we're lemming tell me, but if recipes
music, very russia what we gonna hear all the parties. That we have no the broad size in the truck. For years we ve been going if Time arrives and I'm still up I also think this song just cause. I know the words but like Those me songs, because if you drop pebble in the memory pool and all the ripples- and this is the memory of the last twenty four years, and this Encapsulate snow them browser. and tell me what time in the morning might that be the well you agenda song. So, let's ok, it is the first line of this. I yes, let's hear it its quota to three. No. Doing me So set em up Joe. I got a little story. I think you should know
were drink in my four one for Baby and one more for the road that was frank, sinatra, sing it there but buried what're. You said it tends to be you're late. My early morning, party peace up exactly forty, three exact anne and it's only cause. I know the words come a little bit of a ritual, so that's nice and you ve played king lear, twice in your career. The amazon miller directed you a couple of years ago and he said of you he's impatient with the gilded world of conventional theatre. He and you are as important as he himself is- is IRAN. importers about you that has been through times impatient with the status This assumed scholarship. where you know you sit round the table and discuss every bloody line and comma for a fortune. Before you get on your feet in her rehearsals first act, one scene, one guarantee fate and let's get to work, it's that that you know that. Of the rock and roll of the big language, and you know it,
It is about music as well. The music language is not the last two hundred years, which has been in instigation into the mind and psychology and watches clear path. The thinking that anyone who cares o gives a damn we didn't write that four hundred years ago in you, he was right, for he knew the place. He was right in full and he theater oh, you would contend. It seems to me that it's all about the story and not about actors and actresses tying themselves and knocks about. What's the motivation, oh give a damn about any acts of becoming somebody. That's not our job, our job. To instill in an audience that what comes out of our gobs deserves. come out of them and If we, then you do the work as the audience. I suppose an an actor if they were sitting here, who you know to the departed from your view of things but if I understand where he is from psychologically and I'm working on my kitchen in the morning. Making a cup of tea is false,
Then I understand what it is to be hit. My understand his motivations understand the debt and that then translated into the performance state she would say claptrap night. Let's have you set Piece of music, then tell me about less what what are we gonna get me MA am used to put these big in dress is on with an old man on the top of their rearing. Careless. In a net and should go off and sing in the work, immense clubs in all honesty should come back. In a taxicab she'd been paid do our air at the club and then seeing two sets of four songs or something something mighta a, but she had this bright lemon dress. I remember I was only five and this bright lilac, one and she used to sing a song- and this is the pebble of that
a few nice memories. I have of banned a little lad the we the banning the on my way be my butt. It's K, star and wheel of fortune. You said, Barry going into that way, memorably for you. You said it's one of the very few nice memories you have of being a little and you are aged fiber and but that when your mother would go occasionally, workingmen clubs to sing and she would be lemon dresses, apple dresses. What else do you remember what you and your mother from those early years? Why I've got a very chequered history and my mom
still alive and I'm eldest of four. These are two different fathers. Seventeen years after the divorce, timid dad in nineteen sixty six? She can, too old and made me that again right an angle. So I've got my sort of rose tinted glasses on the net Ok, we're all about those. I think you didn't know we are brothers, as you were being got up poker. How come we were off? We were. You went off with your father, but then when I was five, a man was married and then had what was number three child And then, when my dad was enough, the hospital in two two twenty and two state overnight This room and this guy came and not on a door in a white coat is at all. low bar thought it will it had not. work in radiology. I went yeah go on, he said well
I thought it was your dad's x rays that come down, so I thought I'd come and say hello. I went yeah go on. He said, I'm Michael the next one to your goodness me two thousand and two per stammered man. Did you stay and talk did not really I was concerned about me that so you were brought up without your brothers, but with your father tell me about early early relationship data was an hopes for me not to work on fish stock cause. I'm a fish I'd from all right near the fish stock and those would have been jobs that would have been handed down because they were good job excellent job. Yes, but he didn't want that. For me. He wanted me to be a marine engineer on big box and I had no physics. I had nothing, but dig into grammar school, and I was here grandma skull, lad down the streets I suffered that, because my grannie wont let me drop trousers. Tell our fourteen! So my great tree trunks of fires were so. It ensures walkin around
the straight in the uniform and I couldn't go out. Larkin Cosa I don't want to do. Let's have some music very russet. Tell me about this. We can listen to you said. Well, you be on a desert island without this voice? It is the voice all postwar pop music. For me,. And it's obvious which sit on. If you can't call the police, please don't be cross, is true. The pupils right, true, the crew. The heart is true, Elvis
Be crew very russia, these spoken about your dad did. He was working on the docks. I think he, mostly every fish stocks did night shifts. How much did you see him when you were living with him? Then is a boy well because of circumstances I too a bedroom with him till I was eighteen, so add to alarm clock. She got up at midnight to start work to aid. Come back for breakfast about call passed up a sudden, would meet for breakfast a go to bed. I go to school, so not much nah, you, a very well red men, of course, able to quote chatroom verse and some of the famous words that have been written in english language, and yet You sit in front of me as somebody who is a little boy didn't have any books in nice, not your stuff there was a daily newspaper, a weekly, thing called tippets and the news that a world on a sunday and that where it when I got to grammar school. It was like gone to samarkand, an eye used everything. Did you gobbled up all that
I did, but in my own tear ass ways, I was never great popular with the teachers accept this guy later on when I was fifteen, because I had a chip, the attitude of the fish stock. So I got grow at school and I was a grammar school by down my straight and you went to the books in club of about twelve and the mistake of telling the lads at the box club in a train that I was leaving the box club to go and sing in all eternity church choir in oh well, everybody in the ring with smack me up. I may not bad about smack meal, so I left assaultive wimpy betrayed an. I arrived at the first quite branches, the next day, with stressed over me, eyebrow, alas, alas top of minerals and cut lip sire, the hooligans and I never recovered from it, and who was at that sort of juxtaposition, often in my life when I went. to scotland, to the royal scotch the maid musing drama. They told me
I talked for me. I was the only this man in a group of scots and telling me I talk funny, I'm sure you dead body. I did. speaking as a scots outdated when you weren't at school covering up all the knowledge and being a tear. Our says you so wonderfully describe it when you did have time with your dad's. Yet what did you do together? Films? It was a big john wayne Man, so I was so everything young. Where did we shall everything gimmick stagnated? When was it that you started going to the choir o one about, twelve and soprano voice and when it broke it didn't break. In an and will you the one who decided you wanted to go there? Did somebody peculiar? So let's go. Let me the music teacher at school said all eternity error recruiting and that they accepted me was something in you, even though you were chippy and conscious that you wanted to fit into your surroundings. There was something also that was lusting after this other world, as I liked performing not in our good alight in front of an audience
and you knew your mother had been a singer cause. You got you go out in the lemon dresses and the closure. Do you think, Maybe you were so of connecting some of the like. I can sing to lincoln do not that as much as her confidence of standing up in front of an audience time What music gave us a tell me about your force. What can he was always a stone son from first moment they came out. I was a fan. I was also a took very fan, submit a compromise here, a chip bearing
but some bad stones, it ain't stones best this it ain't you berries best, is what to get at it quite dynamic. that was the rolling stones and less at rock, and I mentioned to you by russia during that that this was the first time it's ever been chosen, not as understood as the same as K star that tracked. You are happy with that. Why yeah, but original, tell me mr signal, the english teacher, it was trying to persuade me to come into the school play for a number of years, and then he said in a number of years yet well a couple years, at least because the staff played the leads in the play
then, and then he said what you got, a big dubbing class put to use in the school play and eventually after having said I'm too busy to in football, I'm so busy doing cricket etc. I went into school play, and that was the first year because due to us that he took a particular theatrical shine through that could carry the planet with many inspectors, I played the mat and they show that guy played them plastic off. The government is better and loved. It is that what you feel most of whom, but without question without question the best will in the world I've done drugs it dont go with a stage is as simple as that. It's just that marvelous feeling I mean you know the holy trinity of of acting, is head hearten, balls and innovate thrills. Every part of it tell me, then but joining you audition for the national youth caesar what,
see. I I imagine, may maybe as much being around people who you may be felt. For the first time, ooh they're, like minas, lumps yeah yeah, there was a there was a dutchman Plymouth. I remember now sixty four and is was so thrilled with him that they paid Ali's expense it up to comes at. That was a different world. You know, I didn't call me a penny too, to go down london, what happened? Did you just apply for a little grounded applied for local grant, a trust fund, and then it was a real achievement. Accept I knew that I didn't want to be a student in london. What when it came to it, I only apply to provincial dramas goals and I took the first one that took me, which happened to be there royal scottish academy of music genre in Glasgow. And how did you get on that? You said they tried to earn your accent as I got that listen in sixty five hours in the famous and an incredible with a man at the old, vague nice, sixty six, we re did little Malcolm
the struggle against the unix at the royal car. That's when jody and bore the rights, and I was in that with him down I went back to college and this patted me only. I said yes, good for that west end in the summer. But now you ve got to act promptly and I said sawed off see left I left early. Yet our job. Round europe playing nipple in little Malcolm first class travel. All around europe, not sixty eight course. I left have some music bury russia tell me about your fists. Well, this college was combined with the music colleges as well, and it was really where I got my sexual awakening. Equally the music Ladys and, and they pay- A violin got invited to a lunchtime concept and then I heard this and I just fell in love.
that was part of the third me.
From says our front symphony in d minor, with the chicago symphony orchestra conducted by pm. Until we were chatting earlier- and you said, Barry rutter that I should say cesar Franck nazis are funk shop, geo It says these are wrong, but that second one you did you would a first time, father in nineteen, seventy three yeah to your daughter, your first daughter thames, and what difference did that make to your working life as an actor? Then I'm afraid I followed the czech patent that my mother did with me due to circumstances. I won't bore you with what they were, but sir. It was unfortunate to say the least. that point it wasn't that there was a family life that was mentioning. You were working and you happened to have a daughter, so You joined the irish in nineteen. Seventy five. What were the roles that you were playing the time I wished for bigger parts, but again it also five. I remember dress in something, and I did it and in jody, because our
was a servant to house by the hospital was doing our pay. So I got moved from the servant ending up on our pay servant into georgia. Opie hotspot arthur away girl. I'm very tell me, then: how did you meet the woman who would become your wife? She came I stage in another michigan where she was doing a doctorate to congratulate israeli. I just played a enrolling in production of yates his version of oedipus and ass. I do your nice, let's go for drink, and that was it. And we got married in some night. You had to daughter You also had a son that was your baby harry and then Harry died at fourteen weeks old died from cot death yeah. I was on the national plan napoleon and peter halls- animal farm, not an eighty four and the cooling and just after the interval, but they couldn't napoleon I'm on enough states, witness the stage,
the came into the gesture on end and set has been, I knew something was wrong. She was smoking and I hate smoking and certainly a person resolute, but never in the world thought it would be a hurry, so I drove home. and drove almost fast, as I could, with a ring radio blair in all the time. I was wanting the in to stop me, so I didn't have to drive explained the situation and then get the place tat meal because it was south stratford. So from the national fitted to stratford the family home. We then went on to have another child which we weren't going to have and she's. Now in berlin is about to be married, What sustained through people have to be as resilient as they able to be. What was it through? That time was it was it family did? Did you keep on working Did you take time away for ten days later, I was back at work way on stage, but also
that year, put on a lot of weight because I never said no to anything it peoples I do get yes, please. People come up to you and react to you when, when you have lost a child and often often they offer things right? Yes, as that that you know the old thing of when them priam goes to achilles ten for the body of hector. First, they sit down for food and drink. Is that sort of ancient syndrome that you bring food and drink and I never refused any. It must. Surely have changed you that tragedy I have a whole in may, which will never get stitched up, it's a black hole, but next is the son of the daughter that we now have I've had my music paramount. It tell me about your sixty. splitting and what we well here. I am terrible insomniac. and I say to my girls brine in rowan before they went to bed
so on this island. I would look to be soon to sleep- and this is the lullaby that eliza carthy- was sang to buy a man norm that might be. Sir That is why we do That was eliza. see and prairie lullaby. You said you would like that on your island, bury because it would help to hopefully law you off to sleep, yearn insomniac. What did I do in those nights when you can't sleep? Are you reading pleasing you think learn is logically output babylon
ro than I thought you were aged around forty six than when you decide is create this northern broadsides theatre company. I think that's a very Trusting used to set up your own company and I wonder you can give us a little bit of context, for that was it because you saw the limitations of what will happen. It was too big disappointment, and you can only drink so much scotch or kick the dog. You have to do some and so I did it. I got a sort of road to damascus vision and I set it up some without our mad, some people thought I was stupid, but the people went with my burning enthusiasm and by sweet serendipity. Oh my tom was evidence first at the big festival, seven but he is a a city and that was in ninety two, so I touch and that with the production of richard third in a marina boat shed. So what would you say to people? in a very lively way and very often participate in that current debates about you know,
intercity in the arts widely recognized as being a useful thing in society in broader terms, and who also say that you know no within the acting profession, particularly what we are seeing are a very high profile group of people, most, who may be very able, but come from they well heeled backgrounds have been through the private education system and so on, and that this is indicative of the fact that the act profession can no longer really support people from low income backgrounds because they just have the cashed it to galicia. The this is partly elite is that I am not blaming. The actors are good actors, the stars the elitism? That's happening, it's happening in football in our universities with foreign students. In nepal places and Mediation at universities excitement and its in the us. What is it right now that might be pushing youngsters from lower income and more diverse backgrounds, from getting into the acting for the funding of funding across the board and every
School argument is one at least three or four pounds goes back to the coffers of the land. For everyone given in subsidy bits of provence school fat. But that's not the point- is about the imagination of the country, once you rob the country of the creative spirit. This is the danger that when we become a desert. Let's have some music, very russia. We're on your seventh tell me about this one. Why? Because in this, what is its well? It's a tribute to the ladies in my life from them Eight react when our born right, through To the ladys of girlfriends to dare ex wife, two daughters, and to leading colleagues, all of whom have been female. My sort of little nod and tribute, by one of the great female rock and rollers, and also I went to see the manchester and at the end of the show? Her climax is this great big mechanical claw comes up and swings out over the audience and she said:
the apex of singing and she leaned over and start right above me, and she and other I got an anointing drop, a sweat right in the middle of the forum, The tina turner and prose mary. As mentioned by russia, you played king lear twice in your professional career. He dies of late, doesn't broken.
Ah said old age riotously. What have the great parts and playing them talk to you about? How did it you you're about to be seventy yourself? What are they taught you about what it is to be older, not a lot because seventy now is a lot younger than when they were written and certainly in my grandfather's age or me, Amy dad's, age sentences. Lot younger now. You know I'm still putting on a so in falling backwards into a basket seven days a week, as long as we don't lose, our faculties access don't need to retire. Yes, I just hope I grow old, gracefully with a bit of phenomena, a lotta rock n roll in two thousand and nine. You had a heart attack and you are, you are treating the added. I was directed rich of the third in estonia locally in tartu. The second city cause it's gotta university, intolerably clinic with it. So I have this Daddy knows that talk, it was a real pain across stopping the shoulders and I was workin for four days after
and eventually my designers had you not right. Let's go to the clinic so straight up, stairs intensive care straight up to this, Andre reward. So I was watching all on the screen. It gets to the occluded and he said to me right there. It is mr reform it's great, an inch of occluded blood, he said: remove this very carefully now, so I dont see and it round the body. It's not a five minute job and acid well doc. I'm going nowhere. The bugs issue started laughing And very formerly did his hands off my body. Looked down at me, said mister rota, don't make me, laugh, I'm in your heart, get it did you eat it and what about the sun?
the people who spend their life in the theater talk, often and apparently honestly, about the family of a theater and being together with other people. Given that the confusion of your early life is that felt like the most? So I don't think it's an accident than I spent nationally theatre run shakespeare company national fears, and then the last twenty four years with my sort of theatrical family plus the families that I've helped to create it. I don't think that's an x And if I was cycle analyzing myself, that's what I would probably think that I've sold families. tiny bit of introspection there. We got well if you're on an island, you gotta have a bit navel gazing. I I was grateful for it and tell me then about your its track. What we Well, this is my rage against the dying of delight. I dont want to hang up my rock n roll shoes. This is it
great version of a song which, as many people have recorded and wonder a brass in the middle of it that way. The band and unwanted hang up moroccan mu, Shu silbury. I give all our castaways, as you might know, the bible and the complete works he had already about right. You don't have to take it. You will take the complete, what's I've worked closely and your low state one of the big. Yet now can us what the babble foot sony, ericsson, selected, verse and then he's got a book approach, common out
so, can you drone it to me next year, no three books, history, books? No, you can't that I'm not changing the rules for you. I'm finds you not to take the bible, but complete whatsoever one of our lives it make do with a select adverse than he will luxury icing should now be getting old and so did Quality of my death will be important. I wanted to tat dna test, but you won't give it up so like a meteor above the level of the door of the hut that I shall build will be applied. swimming flippers, the first sign of madness. I'll put him on swim out find a great white and challenges to fifteen round. He can definitely have the flippers and if you could only save one disc from this list of eight, which one would it be while
rock n roll. I was gonna, be the stones, but I think with the memory of all the ladys in my life tat a ten. It's yours very rough es. Thank you. Vein for letting us here, your desert, island disk. Thank you. You you've been listening to a download from the bbc you'll find information on the radio. Four website
Bbc co dot, uk flesh, radio four. the.
Transcript generated on 2022-06-19.