Tim Barrow: Independence Is An Offer Of Hope

Tim Barrow is an actor, writer, producer and director who has worked on titles such as The Inheritance, The Space Between, Taggart and Waterloo Road.

I will be voting Yes in the 2014 referendum. Independence is the most mature, most enlightened, most inspiring path for Scotland. Too often the political climate is dominated by recrimination, despondency or apathy. It’s refreshing to hear our politicians offering hope. Voting Yes means embracing the challenge, taking responsibility, fighting for our values, and sharing the bounty of our inheritance. Devolution has been an incredible success, and the natural conclusion for this process is full independence, which simply restores Scotland’s rightful nationhood.

I support the ethos and aims of National Collective and am proud to be a member. Artists need to stand up for their beliefs and when we do it collectively, our voice is strong.

Artists scrutinise and challenge the establishment. Artists are aspirational – the promise of better is worth striving for. Art can stir the debate, showcase opinion, sort facts from fiction, inspire people to realise the best of themselves. Everyone loves stories, and Scotland needs her storytellers at this critical point in her history. Previous generations showed the way – the work of 7:84, the creation of the Traverse theatre, the instigation of the Edinburgh Fringe. Our current generation has work to do.

Scotland is good at people’s movements – the founding of the Labour Party, our industries’ Trade Unions, countless charities and NGOs, and historically we can point to the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320 and the National Covenant in 1638. Many countries around the world ignore the will of their people – in contrast, our nation is accustomed to making her voice heard and our leaders are forced to take their citizens’ wishes into account.

I’ve always been fascinated by history, and my writing explores Scotland’s past – examining key events which forged our nation. As a result of research and passion, my play UNION came into being and will open at the Lyceum theatre in March 2014. UNION was inspired by events and characters surrounding the Act of Union in 1707 – a period of history I previously knew nothing about – which features people history normally forgets – the majority of the population. Scottish MPs received money and titles from Westminster to write their parliament out of existence, and their poverty-stricken citizens had to struggle on as best they could. And the story is championed by the vigour, poetry and spirit of Allan Ramsay – a wonderful Scottish poet, wig-maker and literary entrepreneur.

All theatre is political, and an essential part of society – it’s how we keep tabs on what and how we are. UNION may shed some light on an important time and the motivation for actions which led to the union of parliaments at Westminster. The Act of Union is a significant event in Scotland’s history and the fact it does not feature in the school syllabus is shocking. People need to know their history, otherwise we fail to learn the lessons of past mistakes and injustices. We cannot help but draw parallels with our own times.

And during my lifetime film has become the most dominant medium. I’ve now made 2 feature films from scratch, under the auspices of Lyre Productions. We made these films because we needed to tell these stories. Our award-winning Scottish road movie THE INHERITANCE and Edinburgh love story THE SPACE BETWEEN coalesced the skills, passion, creativity of their cast & crew to produce work audiences love. Scotland is a film-maker’s dream. Stunning landscapes, vibrant cities, brilliantly gifted people. It’s been our privilege shooting films, touring them around our homeland, as well as abroad, and discovering how they resonate strongly. We’re excited to shoot more.

Nationally, we have the talent and must make many more films here. We need Scottish people making Scottish films for Scottish audiences, without heeding the caution, doubt, and claims of incompetence espoused by people who do not have Scotland’s interests at heart. We have powerful stories to tell, which audiences are dying to see.

In both film and theatre Scotland does not have a rich theatrical backlog upon which to draw. There are good plays, but too few. There are good films that avoid patronisation and insulting stereotype, ones which tell fascinating stories – Rob Roy, Trainspotting – but this is just the beginning. In film, like music, old barriers, that simply protected an audience-ignorant, profit-obsessed industry hierarchy, are being broken down. We’re in the middle of a digital revolution, which is opening the floodgates for ideas and new voices. We have the means to make our work, and to show it. Anything is possible and all that matters is quality.

I believe we are going to see a massive cultural awakening in Scotland, as our nation reclaims its voice. The arts have a leading role to play. Scotland is a tiny country that punches well above its weight in terms of talented artists. Theatres and cinemas are hubs for their community – from villages to capital cities – and the dialogue between artist and audience is vibrant and essential. We must keep examining our ideals, individually and collectively. Who are we? Where do we want to go from here? How can we solve our problems of poverty, poor health, lack of aspiration? Our government has popular social welfare policies (in contrast to Westminster) and now rampant consumerism is collapsing we have the chance to replace it with something stronger and better. Compassion, fairness, tolerance and happiness move to the top of the agenda.

Voting yes in 2014 will give us the opportunity to flourish. Our nation needs the care and guidance of its inhabitants. We live in incredibly exciting times and the days ahead are rich with possibility. We may stand on a cliff edge, but once we step off, I believe we will fly.

Tim Barrow

National Collective 

Photograph by Eoin Carey 

Born in Edinburgh, and brought up between Australia & Scotland, Tim Barrow trained as an actor at Drama Centre London, graduating in 2001 with a BA Hons degree.

Screen credits include Taggart; Waterloo Road; Children Of The Dead End; The Queen’s Wedding; Richard Jobson’s New Town Killers; forthcoming The Young Pretender (Palm Tree); Last Boy Hanged (BBC Alba) and Dreck (T Squared Films). Theatre includes plays for Citizens Theatre, Theatre 503, The Arches, Glasgow Rep, Prime Productions, First Bicycle, Theatre Enigma and Nonsenseroom.

In 2007 Tim set up Lyre Productions as a platform for contemporary, challenging new work. He wrote, produced & starred in the independent Scottish road movie The Inheritance. Nominated for Best UK Feature on its premiere at Raindance, The Inheritance won the Raindance Award at 2007 British Independent Film Awards and Tim was nominated Best Producer at 2008 BAFTA Scotland New Talent Awards. The Inheritance toured festivals & cinemas widely and was released on DVD together with a 60 minute documentary detailing how to make a tiny-budget award-winning feature.

He wrote, produced and starred in their second feature (his directorial debut) The Space Between – an Edinburgh love story and redemption tale, which premiered at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse in March 2011. The film has extensively toured Scotland and the UK, and is released on DVD.

Tim’s first stage play Guy was produced at London’s Pleasance Theatre. Tim’s second play Union will be staged at the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh in March 2014.