Max Stafford-Clark

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Max Stafford-Clark
Maxwell Robert Guthrie Stewart Stafford-Clark

(1941-03-17) 17 March 1941 (age 81)
Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
OccupationTheatre director

Maxwell Robert Guthrie Stewart "Max" Stafford-Clark (born 17 March 1941) is a British theatre director.


Life and career

Stafford-Clark was born in Cambridge, England. the son of David Stafford-Clark, a physician, and Dorothy Crossley (née Oldfield). [1] He was educated at Felsted School, in Essex, England and Riverdale Country School in New York City, followed by Trinity College, Dublin. [2] [3]

His directing career began as Associate Director of the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, in 1966. He became artistic director there from 1968 to 1970. He was Director of the Traverse Theatre Workshop Company from 1970 to 1974. [2]

Stafford-Clark then co-founded the Joint Stock Theatre Company in 1974. [2] Joint Stock worked with writers using company research to inspire workshops. From these workshops, writers such as David Hare, Howard Brenton and Caryl Churchill would garner material to inspire a writing phase before rehearsals began. This methodology is sometimes referred to as The Joint Stock Method. Productions during this period included Hare's Fanshen (1975), Brenton's Epsom Downs and Churchill's Cloud Nine (1979) which Stafford-Clark directed, as well as The Speakers, a promenade production. [4]

From 1979 to 1993, Stafford-Clark was Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre. [2] He remains to date the Court's longest serving artistic director. He helped nurture emerging playwrights including Andrea Dunbar, Hanif Kureishi, Sarah Daniels and Jim Cartwright. His regular collaborators on his productions included the singer Ian Dury. During this time the theatre's productions included Victory by Howard Barker, The Arbor by Andrea Dunbar, Insignificance by Terry Johnson, Our Country's Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker, Road by Jim Cartwright and Rat in the Skull by Ron Hutchinson. Perhaps the most important commission and production of this era was Top Girls by Caryl Churchill (1982).[ citation needed ]

Our Country's Good is based on Australian author Thomas Keneally's book The Playmaker in which convicts deported from Britain to the penal colony perform George Farquhar's The Recruiting Officer . Stafford-Clark wrote about his experiences of staging the plays in repertoire in his book Letters to George.

He has staged productions for Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival. [5] [6] [7] [8]

In 1993, he founded the Out of Joint touring company [3] with producer Sonia Friedman, one of her first ventures after leaving the National Theatre. He was Artistic Director until 2017 when he was succeeded by Kate Wasserberg. He left the company after complaints were made about a tendency to make lewd remarks to women. [9] The emergence of this issue in October 2017 led to further accusations of inappropriate sexual comments, going back several decades. The actress Tracy-Ann Oberman was among those who contacted The Guardian to relate their experience, taking the number of women who had made complaints about Stafford-Clark to five. [10]

Academic credits include an honorary doctorate from Oxford Brookes University [2] and Professorships at the University of Warwick [11] and the University of Hertfordshire.

By May 2021, the company had changed its registered address, professional and legal names. It became known as Stockroom, presumably as a reference to Stafford-Clark's work in co-founding and leading his first company (Joint Stock). The name Out of Joint had cleverly used a famous three word phrase in Shakespeare's Hamlet to simultaneously describe the evolutionary legacy from Stafford-Clark's first company.

Personal life

Stafford-Clark and Carole Hayman married in 1971; they later divorced. His second wife was Ann Pennington (m. 1981). [2]

During a six-month period in 2006 and 2007, Stafford-Clark suffered three strokes, which left him physically disabled and impaired his eyesight. [12] Stafford-Clark's experience, and the condition of the NHS, inspired Irish playwright Stella Feehily (the couple married in 2010) [13] to write the play This May Hurt a Bit, first performed in 2014. [12]

He has one daughter, Kitty Stafford-Clark, from his second marriage.[ citation needed ]

Sexual harassment allegations

In July 2017, an employee of Stafford-Clark's Out of Joint theatre company made a formal complaint about his behaviour. [14] An investigation followed and he was asked to leave the company. Stafford-Clark stepped down in September 2017. In the weeks that followed, three more women stated that he had "made lewd comments to them." [14] [15]


In 1999 the British Library acquired Stafford-Clark's papers consisting of production diaries and rehearsal scripts covering his time with the Joint Stock Theatre Company, the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre, and Out of Joint theatre company. [16] The Library also acquired supplementary production diaries and rehearsal scripts in 2005. [17]

Productions since 2000


Related Research Articles

<i>Top Girls</i>

Top Girls is a 1982 play by Caryl Churchill. It centers around Marlene, a career-driven woman who is heavily invested in women's success in business. The play examines the roles available to women in old society, and what it means or takes for a woman to succeed. It also dwells heavily on the cost of ambition and the influence of Thatcherite politics on feminism.

Howard John Brenton FRSL is an English playwright and screenwriter. While little-known in the United States, he is celebrated in his home country and often ranked alongside contemporaries such as Edward Bond, Caryl Churchill, and David Hare.

Royal Court Theatre Theatre in London, England

The Royal Court Theatre, at different times known as the Court Theatre, the New Chelsea Theatre, and the Belgravia Theatre, is a non-commercial West End theatre in Sloane Square, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London, England. In 1956 it was acquired by and remains the home of the English Stage Company and is known for its contributions to contemporary theatre.

The Joint Stock Theatre Company was founded in London 1974 by David Hare, Max Stafford-Clark Paul Kember and David Aukin. The director William Gaskill was also part of the company. It was primarily a company which presented new plays.

<i>Serious Money</i> Satirical play by Caryl Churchill

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Stella Feehily

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David Aukin

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Caryl Lesley Churchill is a British playwright known for dramatising the abuses of power, for her use of non-naturalistic techniques, and for her exploration of sexual politics and feminist themes. Celebrated for works such as Cloud 9 (1979), Top Girls (1982), Serious Money (1987), Blue Heart (1997), Far Away (2000), and A Number (2002), she has been described as "one of Britain's greatest poets and innovators for the contemporary stage". In a 2011 dramatists' poll by The Village Voice, five out of the 20 polled writers listed Churchill as the greatest living playwright.

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Light Shining in Buckinghamshire is a play by British playwright Caryl Churchill written in 1976.


  1. "Max Stafford-Clark Biography (1941-)". Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Europa Publications (2003). The International Who's Who 2004. Psychology Press. p. 1598. ISBN   978-1-85743-217-6.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Aragay, Mireia; Zozaya, Pilar (2007). Max Stafford-Clark. British Theatre of the 1990s. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 27. doi:10.1057/9780230210738_3. ISBN   978-0230005099.
  4. Philip Roberts and Max Stafford-Clark, Taking Stock: the Theatre of Max Stafford-Clark, 2007
  5. Masters, Tim (15 April 2015). "Beckett festival to feature play in the dark". BBC News.
  6. Slater, Sasha. "Going to the Opera". Harper's Bazaar.
  7. Thorpe, Vanessa. "Sophie Hunter: The opera director who has to dodge paparazzie". Sophie Hunter Central.
  8. Kennedy, Maev. "Happy Days festival's Beckett treats to include a German Godot". The Guardian.
  9. Topping, Alexandra (20 October 2017). "Theatre director Max Stafford-Clark was ousted over inappropriate behaviour". The Guardian.
  10. Topping, Alexandra (26 October 2017). "'Disrespectful' director Max Stafford-Clark humiliated me, actor says". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  11. "Professor Max Stafford-Clark". University of Warwick. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  12. 1 2 3 Mesure, Susie (10 May 2014). "The NHS and me: A tale of two sicknesses" . The Independent. Archived from the original on 12 May 2022. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  13. McGinn, Caroline (21 September 2011). "Interview: Max Stafford-Clark and Stella Feehily". Time Out. London. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  14. 1 2 Topping, Alexandra (20 October 2017). "Theatre director Max Stafford-Clark was ousted over inappropriate behaviour". The Guardian.
  15. Oberman, Tracy-Ann (26 October 2017). "Max Stafford-Clark pestered me for sex long before his stroke". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  16. Max Stafford-Clark Papers, archives and manuscripts catalogue, the British Library. Retrieved 21 May 2020
  17. Max Stafford-Clark Papers Supplement, archives and manuscripts catalogue, the British Library. Retrieved 21 May 2020