Charles Barron

The prolific and influential teacher, lecturer and playwright has died, aged 76

Alison Shaw

Just three days before his death at the age of 76, Charles Barron stepped in to direct rehearsals of one of his latest plays, Skirlie, a Doric comedy featuring three inept Aberdeenshire dinner wifies. Although, like much of his work it was written in the north-east dialect that so excited him, his career encompassed an enormous range of theatrical productions from Shakespeare to opera, student shows and panto to son-et- lumieres.

Born in Aberdeen in 1936, he attended Robert Gordon's College, where he became Classical Dux and where his interest in acting developed.

He graduated from the University of Aberdeen in 1958, having achieved a first in English language and literature and written his first play, The Sky To Me, inspired by the 1956 student uprising in Hungary.

He then trained as a teacher at Aberdeen Teacher Training Centre, later known as Aberdeen College of Education.

It was while teaching English, history, Latin and Greek at Inverurie Academy, where he also directed pupils in plays and Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, that Mr Barron first became involved with Haddo House, initially as a Shakespearean actor and later as opera director.

He spent four years at Inverurie before taking up a lecturing post at Glasgow's Jordanhill College of Education.

The 1970s saw him return to Aberdeen permanently when he became head of speech and drama at the city's education college. He was there for 18 years, during which time he continued writing and publishing plays and directed the student show. But he decided to take early retirement in order to spend more time writing and took on the part-time role of arts director at Haddo House.

There he created Haddo Youth Theatre and began the tradition of an annual pantomime. An institution for 16 years, it was always written as a traditional panto, and it played to more than 10,000 schoolchildren each year.

He loved Haddo House and hit it off with Prince Edward whom he directed in the 1980s as one of the Haddo Players.

Mr Barron's own award-winning plays include Fooshion, set in the back green of an Aberdeen tenement, and Amang The Craws, a Doric Festival winner which was distributed to every Scottish secondary school by Learning and Teaching Scotland for use in Higher English and drama courses.

He recently completed another major work - an adaption of author David Toulmin's only novel, Blown Seed. A tour, which he would most likely have directed, will mark the centenary next year of Toulmin's birth. Three of his one-act plays based on Toulmin's short stories are also in line for a revival.

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Alison Shaw

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