The Royal Court Theatre and Out of Joint have today (13 December 2017) issues a joint press statement announcing that they have chosen not to present the current touring production of Rita, Sue and Bob Too at the Royal Court in January 2018. The London season, announced last year when Max Stafford-Clark was still Out of Joint artistic director, was due to run from 9 to 27 January 2018.
The statement reads:
“The departure of Max Stafford-Clark from Out of Joint and the recent allegations in the media have coincided with the Royal Court’s response to the spotlight on our industry and the rigorous interrogation of our own practices. On our stage, we recently heard 150 stories of sexual harassment and abuse and therefore the staging of this work, with its themes of grooming and abuses of power on young women, on that same stage now feels highly conflictual.
“The show has successfully toured to ten venues this Autumn and we remain incredibly proud that the shared collaboration made the tour possible.
“Out of Joint is now a company in transition, facing its future, a future which the Royal Court wholeheartedly supports and looks forward to being part of through the current development of a new co-commission.”
Andrea Dunbar wrote her semi-autobiographical play for the Royal Court Theatre in 1982 when she was just 19 and when Stafford-Clark was artistic director of the Royal Court, which he ran from 1979 to 1993 (he remains the Court’s longest-serving director to date). It’s a vivid portrait of girls caught between brutal childhood and an unpromising future, hungry for adult adventure. Rita, Sue and Bob Too also became a hit film in 1987.
Stafford-Clark, the play’s original director, had been due to direct this major revival. But, after an investigation into sexual allegations made by a former employee, he left Out of Joint three days into the five-week rehearsal period. The production was taken over by then-joint artistic director Kate Wasserberg. Co-produced by Out of Joint with the Court and Bolton’s Octagon Theatre, Rita, Sue and Bob Too opened at the Octagon on 6 September before touring.
And yet… I feel so uncomfortable penalising the work, (female) playwright Andrea Dunbar & #RitaSueBobToo company for actions of their director – & one who's already lost his job @Out_of_Joint. Is that really justice? 3/ #sexualallegations #NoGreyArea pic.twitter.com/bHps5QRMEb
— Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) December 13, 2017