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Max Stafford-Clark: We can’t afford to rehearse properly anymore

Max Stafford-Clark in rehearsals. Photo: Ray Jefferson, Bolton Camera Club
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Max Stafford-Clark has revealed funding cuts have forced Out of Joint to slash rehearsal times, leaving some actors unprepared for opening nights.

Stafford-Clark, who founded Out of Joint, also expressed concerns that companies like his could be hit by a 4% cut in the next Arts Council funding round. He said this could prevent the company from touring altogether.

He was speaking at a Lyric Hammersmith panel event discussing Mark Ravenhill’s play Shopping and Fucking – having directed the original production at London’s Royal Court in 1996.

The director claimed he could no longer be as thorough as he wanted, and that further cuts would “disable” his company’s capability to tour at all.

During the talk, Stafford-Clark asked Sean Holmes – the director of the Lyric Hammersmith revival – how many weeks they rehearsed the production.

On hearing Holmes and his crew had five weeks, Stafford-Clark replied: “As did we. One of the things that happened in the last year and since we had a major cut in 2011 is that we’ve cut rehearsal weeks from five to four.”

He continued: “You can’t cut resources and expect the same standard of excellence. So it’s led us into trouble on a couple of occasions. People not knowing lines in time, and skimping on rehearsal processes that I otherwise would have gone into.”

Stafford-Clark said he was determined to extend his rehearsal periods again in 2017 and 2018, “if I possibly can”.

When asked whether he felt optimistic about the future, the director voiced concerns for his company ahead of the next Arts Council funding round – which begins in 2018.

“You can think the worst, but a 4% cut – which is what they’ve indicated may be possible – would in fact disable us from touring altogether. But you can’t afford to think that, you have to think, and indeed, plan,” he said.

Stafford-Clark and Holmes were speaking to playwrights Ravenhill and Simon Stephens about the new production of Shopping and Fucking and the play’s legacy.

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