Belfast Telegraph

Royal Court cancels run of Rita, Sue And Bob Too after harassment allegations

Out Of Joint theatre company founder Max Stafford-Clark left the company following complaints.

The Royal Court has axed a touring production of Rita, Sue And Bob Too by theatre company Out Of Joint after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against the company’s founder Max Stafford-Clark.

Stafford-Clark has left the company, but The Royal Court said staging the show, which features abuses of power on young women, now feels “highly conflictual”.

It recently held a day of action held at the theatre and published an industry Code of Behaviour to prevent sexual harassment and abuse of authority.

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A statement from the theatre said: “The Royal Court Theatre and Out Of Joint have chosen not to present the current touring production of Rita, Sue And Bob Too at the Royal Court in January 2018.

“It was due to run for two-and-a-half weeks.

“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 10 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 whole-heartedly supports and looks forward to being part of through the current development of a new co-commission.”

The play was written when author Andrea Dunbar was 18 and became notorious for its opening scene where two schoolgirl babysitters take it in turns to have sex with their employer in the back of his car.

A film version, released in 1987, starred Siobhan Finneran, Michelle Holmes and George Costigan.

It emerged recently that the theatre director, who forged a reputation as a champion of female playwrights, was forced to leave the company he founded following a complaint about sexualised comments.

His spokesperson previously issued a statement denying “any physical contact of a sexual nature” but apologising for “any inappropriate behaviour that made some former colleagues feel uncomfortable” and saying that he was diagnosed with “occasional disinhibition” following a stroke in 2006.

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