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John Barton, Founder of Royal Shakespeare Company, Dies at 89

Barton was the host of the popular series ''Playing Shakespeare''. logo
A screenshot of John Barton hosting the ITV series Playing Shakespeare.

John Barton, renowned theatrical director and cofounder of England's Royal Shakespeare Company, has died at the age of 89.

Alongside Peter Hall, who died this past September, Barton cofounded the RSC in 1960, where he directed dozens of productions over the course of 40 years. Among his landmark productions were The War of the Roses in 1963, which he adapted in collaboration with Hall, as well as Twelfth Night and Much Ado About Nothing with Judi Dench and Donald Sinden (1969 and 1976); Love's Labour's Lost with Michael Pennington and Jane Laportaire (1978); and The Merchant of Venice with Patrick Stewart (1978) and David Suchet (1981)

Known for his love and mastery of of Shakespearen verse, Barton recorded nine workshops with 21 RSC members, including Dench, Pennington, Stewart, Suchet, Ian McKellen, and Roger Rees, which became the renowned series (and subsequent book) Playing Shakespeare. The 1982 films, aired originally on London Weekend Television, are still used in acting classes and training programs, and are available on DVD.

In 1969, Barton married Anne Righter, who predeceased him.


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