B.H. Barry was born in the English town of Staines. Raised in a working-class neighborhood by a single parent, left school at fifteen and ended up working as a chemical engineer for the leather industry, leaving after three years to pursue a career in the theatre. At the age of nineteen, he attended the Corona Stage Academy.
It was there, B.H. studied with Paddy Crean, Errol Flynn's stunt double. He became a teacher at Corona of mime, voice, dialect, and stage combat. He also directed many projects at the Academy. In the 1960s, he went on to study Aikido and stage combat with his friend and mentor, Barry Jackson.
B.H. proceeded to teach at the London Academy of Dramatic Art, Central School of Speech and Drama, The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and many others.
By the 1970s, he had already established himself as one of the foremost fight directors in England, working in the theatre for the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Royal Court, and the West End. Credits include Spread of the Eagle ,Twelfth Night ,Macbeth, and Hamlet. On television, his work appeared on the B.B.C. and commercial television, and he was working on films with top-flight directors, such as Richard Fleischer, Wilford Leach, and Roman Polanski.
In 1971, B.H. came to America to teach a movement workshop in Dallas, Texas. He returned in 1973 to Lenox, Massachusetts with his friend Tina Packer to help create the well-regarded Shakespeare & Co. While in Lenox, he met Earl Gister, chairman of the drama dept. at Carnegie Mellon, and was invited to teach a course there. That was the beginning of a long and illustrious teaching career that included teaching at (and in many cases, creating) the stage combat programs for The Juilliard School, Yale, NYU, Temple, City College, and Circle in the Square Theatre School; with many other workshops and master classes at various universities and conservatories around the country.
Barry has created fights for more than 40 Broadway productions, including Golden Boy, Dividing the Estate, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Sly Fox, Macbeth, Kiss Me, Kate, Into the Woods, My Favorite Career, Moon Over Buffalo, City of Angels, and Fiddler on the Roof. Barry trained at the Corona Stage Academy before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company as fight director. He has created many fights for the Metropolitan Opera (La fanciulla del West, Wozzeck, The Great Gatsby, Otello), the New York Shakespeare Festival, Covent Garden, and English National Opera. In addition to fight choreography for numerous widely seen feature films (among them The Addams Family, Macbeth, and Mulan), he worked for 17 years in television for the soap opera All My Children.
B.H. has helped form several theatre companies in his career, including Shakespeare and Company, Blue Light in New York City and Shared Experience with Mike Alfreds in the UK. It was with Shared Experience that B.H. and Mike developed their signature style of “Story-Teller Theatre,” which consisted of minimal sets and effects, and instead relied on actors using their words, movements and props to create time and place. Their 1978 production of Bleak House became the role model for many productions in that style, from the RSC’s production of Nicholas Nickleby in 1980 to the National Theatre’s 2007 production of War Horse and Peter and the Starcatcher in 2011 by the La Jolla Playhouse.
In 1968, B.H., William Hobbs, Henry Marshall, Ian Mackay, Roy Goodall, and Derek Ware co-founded the Society of British Fight Directors, now known as the British Society of Dramatic Combat. This organization paved the way for similar societies that sprang up subsequently.
For over 30 years he has called the U.S. home, living in New York City with his wife and daughter.
Over his career, B.H. Barry has been awarded a Drama Desk award and an Obie Award for Sustained and Consistent Excellence in Stage Combat. In 2010, he received a Tony Award for Special Honors for Excellence in the Theatre. He is the first and only Fight Director to receive this award.