On Friday night, following widespread press coverage, the Royal Court reversed its decision, announced on Wednesday, to cancel next month’s London season for the Out of Joint production of Rita, Sue and Bob Too.
The season for the 35th-anniversary revival of Andrea Dunbar‘s modern classic, first seen at the Royal Court in 1982, will now go ahead, as originally scheduled, from 9 to 28 January 2018. Tickets will go back on sale at noon on Thursday 21 December 2017.
Artistic director Vicky Featherstone issued the following statement:
“As Artistic Director of the Royal Court, I know that we are nothing without the voices and trust of our writers. This is the guiding principle on which the theatre was founded and on which it continues to be run. I have therefore been rocked to the core by accusations of censorship and the banning of a working-class female voice. For that reason I have invited the current Out of Joint production of Rita, Sue and Bob Too back to the Royal Court for its run. As a result of this helpful public debate, we are now confident that the context with which Andrea Dunbar’s play will be viewed will be an invitation for new conversations.”
The theatre is also planning a series of post-show talks after the performances, to be announced.
Friday’s reinstatement follows Wednesday’s cancellation of the run, which had been announced with this statement:
“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.
In the cast (pictured), Taj Atwal, Gemma Dobson and James Atherton (well known from TV’s Hollyoaks and Coronation Street) play the title characters and are joined by Sally Bankes, Samantha Robinson and David Walker.
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