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Wednesday, 28 June, 2000, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
Top prize for 'factory floor Shakespeare'
Barry Rutter
Barry Rutter takes theatre to the masses
A theatre director who has taken the works of Shakespeare to such unlikely locations as Skipton Cattle Market has won a top arts prize.

Barry Rutter, from Yorkshire's Northern Broadsides Theatre Company, has been awarded the first prize of 100,000 in the Creative Britons 2000 awards.

He was chosen from six winners, each of whom were awarded 20,000 for their ground-breaking work in the fields of music, visual arts, theatre, film, dance and poetry.

Deputy Prime Minister John Precott, who was among the eight supporters to first nominate Mr Rutter, said: "Barrie's northern accent, fast action, factory floor Shakespeare is as far from elitism as can be, though it has never, never dumbed Shakespeare down."

'Northern vigour'

"What you get is the text, the poetry, the real thing, but with a northern vigour, an energy which connects people and holds their attention," he added.

Peter Cropper
Peter Cropper pioneers chamber music in Sheffield
The local community also played a part in nominating the theatre actor/manager for the prestigious award.

Mr Rutter, whose theatre company works out of a former carpet factory in Halifax, has introduced classical texts from Shakespeare, Kleist and Dryden to the factory floors of northern England and even a yacht repair shed in Hull.

Artistic excellence

He was awarded the coveted prize by Keith Bedell-Pearce of the Prudential, event sponsor, and Chris Smith, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport at a celebrity ceremony at the Royal Opera House.

All six winners, described as "genuine entrepreneurs and risk-takers" were chosen by an independent panel of nine judges, and they will give their prize money to an arts organisation of their choice.

Siobhan Davies
Siobhan Davies is a "passionate fighter" for artists' works
Winners included a poet, a choreographer and a founder of youth television.

Creative Britons 2000
Barrie Rutter: theatre pioneer
Peter Cropper: chamber music-maker
Siobhan Davies: choreographer
Michael Horovitz: poet
Sabrina Guinness: youth TV founder
Susan Loppert: arts in healthcare

Mr Rutter has attracted many admirers for the way he has translated Britain's cultural heritage with an energetic northern quality.

The late Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes, left the director his translation of Euripides' Alcestis as his dying gift.

Those who nominated him for the award have also been unreserved in their praise.

Theatre critic Irving Wardle admired the way Mr Rutter had "made a nonsense of elitism".

Another Rutter aficionado, David Curry MP, said: "If people want to eat fish and chips while watching Shakespeare they are only demonstrating a feeling more in tune with Tudor audiences than is usually demonstrated by those who attend Shakespeare in grander fora."

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