Barrie Hunter faces challenge of playing a scout in new production

BARRIE Hunter has faced a few serious challenges in his acting career.

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  • Barrie Hunter
    Barrie Hunter
  • Barrie Hunter

He's played panto dames, police inspectors, and even Oliver Hardy.

But he reveals his latest Oran Mor role asks that he go where few grown men have gone before - in playing a 13-year-old Boy Scout.

"I'm determined to enjoy the experience," he says, grinning.

"I never made it to the Scouts in real life; I was a Cub, gave it up and went back later as a Venture Scout because some of my pals were doing it. However, this is theatre and here's my chance to go back in time. And you've got to become what's asked of you."

He adds: "I begin and end the play playing my own age, but as for the 13-year-old, well I'm working not to become a caricatured teenager."

Barry, who grew up in the South Side of Glasgow, is starring in Nicola McCartney's new play, Rough Island, alongside Helen McAlpine, Astrid Azurdia, John Scougall.

It's set on July 13, 1985, Live Aid day. While pop stars are changing the world, three young people are setting down to enjoy the incredible occasion watching on television on a remote Scottish island.

"My older brother has gone to the island with his 16-year-old girlfriend and their pal and my character decides to meet up with the others, much to their annoyance," says Barrie.

Lots of little things happen to the group on this eventful day. And something major happens which to reveal would spoil the plot. The play is the second in the new Oran Mor lunchtime season and is a co-production with Mull Theatre Company.

After this week's Glasgow stint, Barrie sets off on an acting journey touring the Highlands and Islands.

"We'll hit Oban, the island of Coll and then the Outer Hebrides down to Barra." He adds, grinning: "If we make it. I've worked with Mull Theatre twice in the past where we have tried to set off to Barra and didn't make it because of the bad weather.

"But with this commitment to taking plays to rural areas comes the issue of getting there. And if you do make it, you have to get off the island, or risk the rest of the tour."

Former RSAMD student Barrie offers real insight into the life of a jobbing actor.

"I remember once we turned up on the island of Luing to be told there was no electricity.

"We were promised it would be back on in time for the evening show, but it never happened. Thankfully, the production, Opium Eater, featured a lot of candles on the set, so we used them.

"And you know, it worked. It was a sunny evening and we had great atmosphere.

"Of course, we couldn't use our sound effects, which were mostly of people having sex 'upstairs', so I just stood offstage and improvised."

Barrie grins as he admits he didn't factor in packed minibuses and five-hour boat trips in Force Nine gales when he decided on becoming an actor.

Yet, the huge selection of roles he's played over the years is testimony to his talent.

HE reveals it was as a schoolboy that he first heard the call of the acting wild.

"I drummed in the school band and then moved on to singing. Then in my final year, the local youth theatre Harlequin staged a production of Jesus Chris Superstar and I was coerced into it."

He landed the role of a disciple and became a disciple of acting. Barrie auditioned for drama college aged 21 and didn't make it. He had a four-year stint 'doing normal jobs' but then auditioned successfully.

Since then, he has worked continuously, including seven plays at Oran Mor.

"In my second year after drama college, I landed a part in the Big Picnic, (the First World War theatre epic) and through that I met so many people who have played a big part in my career," he says.

"I met the likes of playwright Peter McDougall, director Morag Fullerton and Borderline Theatre. And I made some great friends."

Over the next few weeks he is set to become close with his new acting friends on tour.

"Yes, it will be all about CalMac curries and beer and moving around in a mini-van. But it will be great fun."

All he has to do meantime is capture the essence of his 13 year-old self.

"I think I'll manage that," he says, smiling. "He's never been too far away."

l Rough Island, Oran Mor, until Saturday.

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