BARRIE Rutter, award-winning Yorkshire actor, director and founder of Northern Broadsides, has been diagnosed with throat cancer.
In an official statement, 73-year-old Rutter is “in the good care of the mighty NHS and will begin his treatment very shortly”.
Born in 1946, the son of a Hull fish worker, Rutter 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, with a role written specially for him by Peter Terson: a practice to be repeated later in his career.
Seasons at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, London and Europe completed the 1970s. In 1980, he joined the National Theatre, a formative period when he met and worked closely with a poet who was to become his guru, Leeds writer 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, wherein he played Silenus, a part penned for Rutter.
This experience was the spark for actor-manager Rutter setting up Northern Broadsides in 1992, the Halifax company noted for bringing the northern voice, song and clog dancing to Shakespeare, classical theatre and new works alike.
Frustrated by what he perceived to be inadequate Arts Council funding for Broadsides, he stepped down from the artistic director’s post in April 2018. By then he had received the OBE for services to drama in 2015.
He last appeared on the York Theatre Royal stage in November 2017, when the quizzically eye-browed Rutter was at his most Rutter in his farewell Broadsides tour, For Love Or Money, a typically anarchic theatrical double act with Blake Morrison.