Charles Barron was born in Aberdeen in 1936, achieving the distinction of living under three kings before he was a year old (George V, Edward VIII and George VI). He has strayed from his home town only once, living in Glasgow for seven years.
He attended Ashley Road Primary School and then went on to Robert Gordon’s College where he developed an enthusiasm for acting. He was cast almost exclusively in elderly roles – King Duncan in Macbeth, Mr Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer. He seems to have been regarded as permanently 52 years of age, a fact he has taken pleasure in only since 1988. He left Gordon’s as Classical Dux and went on to Aberdeen University where he continued his interest in acting, cast in a variety of roles over the years (a very old Ancient Greek, an elderly lepidopterist, an aged blind man, a decrepit actor). He also wrote his first play, The Sky to Me, inspired by the 1956 students’ rising in Hungary. He also directed the play and cast himself in his first non-OAP role, as a middle-aged inquisitor. He graduated in 1958 with a First Class Honours Degree in English Language and Literature.
Charles trained as a teacher at Aberdeen Teacher Training Centre which changed its name during the six months he was there to Aberdeen College of Education – of which, more later. He took up an appointment at Inverurie Academy in Aberdeenshire, teaching English, History, Latin and Greek. He directed school pupils in both plays and Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, directed for the local Musical Society and became involved with Haddo House, first as a Shakespearean actor and then as director of operas. That connection was to last more than 40 years.
After four years at Inverurie, Charles was offered a lectureship at Jordanhill College of Education, in Glasgow, training English teachers. While there he directed several Shakespeare productions and wrote a number of plays. He spent his Easter holidays at Haddo, directing opera, and his summers there, acting in Shakespeare. He also wrote plays for the annual Braemar Festival, directing them and acting in them. [Defiantly continuing to cast himself in young(ish) roles while everyone else insisted on giving him his usual elderly parts.]
In 1970, Charles became Head of Speech and Drama at Aberdeen College of Education (which changed its name while he was there to the Northern College of Education when it became conjoined with Dundee College of Education. Edinburgh-based civil servants clearly thought of the two cities as being vaguely near each other “in the north” and saw no reason why staff couldn’t commute between the two.) The Barrons bought a sprawling country house, ten miles outside Aberdeen. He carried on writing and publishing plays and eventually, after 18 years, decided to take early retirement in order to devote more time to writing. He took on the part-time role of Arts Director at Haddo House, creating the Haddo Youth Theatre and starting a tradition of an annual pantomime which played to more than 10,000 school children each year.
During this time, his play Fooshion, won the first Total Oil Scottish Playwright’s Award and Amang the Craws won the Doric Festival playwriting award. These were both in the Doric dialect of North East Scotland and he found a real excitement in working in the dialect he had known as a child and in his years as a teacher at Inverurie. Doric plays have formed a significant part of his output ever since while works in English or Glaswegian have been produced by companies such as Edinburgh Theatre Workshop, Annexe Theatre of Glasgow, Dragon Productions of Glasgow and Pitlochry Theatre. Amang the Craws was published by Learing + Teaching Scotland who put a copy into every Scottish secondary school for use in Higher English and Drama courses.
As well as plays, Charles has written and directed son-et-lumieres at sites all over Scotland as well as a number of site-specific plays. He retired from Haddo in 1990 and is now a full-time writer.
In 1961, he married Margo Shand, a teacher and accomplished amateur actress who appeared in a number of Charles’s plays, most memorably in Dearest Dorothy, a full-length one-woman play he wrote for her and which she performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and in several stately homes in Scotland. They had one son, Charlie, who lives with his wife, Karen, and their two children, in Glasgow, where he was born during Charles’s stint at Jordanhill. After working in the press and marketing department at Pitlochry and the Tron theatres, Charlie decided to follow both his parents’ lead and became a teacher of English.
After Margo’s death, Charles moved into the city of Aberdeen and is now married to Gina, a drama teacher. They have a son, Peter, who shows no interest in drama but prefers music. He is an accomplished guitarist.