Royal Shakespeare Company's co-founder John Barton, dies aged 89

'The names William Shakespeare and John Barton will be for me forever united'

Sam Blewett
Friday 19 January 2018 00:55
John Barton founded the company with the late Sir Peter Hall in 1960
John Barton founded the company with the late Sir Peter Hall in 1960

John Barton, the co-founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, has died aged 89.

Tributes have poured in for the director who has been hailed as one of acting's "greatest influences".

Sir Patrick Stewart said it was with "great sadness" that he learned of Mr Barton's death.

But in a Twitter post, he said his "sadness is overwhelmed by the gratitude, respect and love I had/have for him."

He added: "No one in my career had the impact that John had and the names William Shakespeare and John Barton will be for me forever united."

Barton had worked with the company since he founded the RSC with the late Sir Peter Hall in 1960.

Its current artistic director, Gregory Doran, praised Mr Barton for directing numerous "definitive" Shakespeare productions, including Twelfth Night in 1969 with Dame Judi Dench and The Merchant of Venice with Sir Patrick in 1978, and again with David Suchet in 1981.

He said that Mr Barton was "one of the greatest influences in the acting of Shakespeare of the last century".

He added: "But perhaps John's greatest influence on the company, and hence to the profession, was his passion for the verse, and his ability to uncover the clues that Shakespeare wrote into the text to enable actors to deliver it with freshness and vivid clarity.

"Although frail in body at the last, he was always mentally alert and retained his sense of curiosity until the end."

Josie Rourke, the Donmar Warehouse's artistic director, praised Mr Barton for being "fierce, funny and so very tolerant" while coaching her throughout her production of King John in 2006.

The RSC said Mr Baron was living in a care home in west London at the time of his death, having lost his wife Anne in 2013.

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