The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

B.H. Barry

B.H. Barry

Fight Director, Choreographer
Born on Monday, February 19, 1940

Interviewed on: Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Location: Primary Stages Offices
Interviewed by: Casey Childs
Interview #13
"I have a great hope that in the future, plays will cater to a bigger and younger audience that, at the moment, does not go to the theatre… If we do this then we might stand a chance of keeping Off-Broadway alive. My wish is that we do plays of ‘passion’ and not plays of ‘opinion.'"
B.H. Barry Highlights
Video Length: 5 minutes, 16 seconds
BH Barry Interview
Video Length: 1 hour, 33 minutes

B.H. Barry is a fight director and choreographer. His Off-Broadway career began in 1978 when he was the fight director for The Acting Company’s production of KING LEAR. He has worked with many Off-Broadway theater companies, including the New York Shakespeare Festival/The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Second Stage Theatre, Signature Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Circle in the Square Theatre, Theatre for a New Audience, and Primary Stages. His Off-Broadway fight direction has been seen in HAMLET (1979/1982/1986/1990), OTHELLO (1979/2009), EXTREMITIES (1982), GENIUSES (1982), KING RICHARD III (1983), MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (1988), TWELFTH NIGHT OR WHAT YOU WILL (1988), THE LISBON TRAVIATA (1989), THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (1990), DON JUAN IN CHICAGO (1995), PETER AND WENDY (1997), MACBETH (1999/2011), THIEF RIVER (2001), EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL (2006), and THE MODEL APARTMENT (2013). He has been bestowed an OBIE and Drama Desk Award for Sustained and Consistent Excellence in Stage Combat Choreography.  In 2010, he became the first fight director to receive special Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre.

Barry was born in England and studied under Paddy Crean (Errol Flynn’s stunt double) at the Corona Stage School.  He went on to teach stage combat at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Juilliard, Yale, and New York University. By the 1970s, he had established himself as one of the foremost fight directors in England. He also helped found the Society of British Fight Directors, which is now called the British Society of Dramatic Combat. Barry’s work has also been seen in various Broadway productions, such as: A Streetcar Named Desire (1988), Victor/Victoria (1995), Kiss Me, Kate (1999), and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (2005). He is credited with the birth of fight directing in America.

Mentioned in Interview

John Ford Noonan, Hermione Gingold, Patty Crean, Barry Jackson (Jack Barry), Peter Hall, Harold Pinter, The Birthday Party, Joe Orton, Jonathan Price, Arthur Miller, Trevor Nunn, Tina Packer, Earle Gister, Joseph Papp, David Ives, Tony Walton, Lee Breuer, Michael Langham, David Mamet, Cy Coleman, Peter Brook, A.J. Antoon, NYSF/The Public, Circle in the Square, Irish Repertory Theatre, Primary Stages, Mabou Mines, The Acting Company, Playwights Horizons, Royal Shakespeare Company, PETER AND WENDY, THE MODEL APARTMENT, THE LISBON TRAVIATA, THIEF RIVER, GENIUSES