Royal Court backtracks on plans to cancel production of Rita, Sue and Bob Too

Vicky Featherstone. Photo: Dave Benett Vicky Featherstone. Photo: Dave Benett
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The Royal Court in London has overturned a decision to cancel a planned run of Andrea Dunbar’s Rita, Sue and Bob Too.

Earlier this week, the venue said it was not going to allow Out of Joint’s production to run at the venue next year as part of a UK tour, following accusations of harassment made against the theatre company’s founder, Max Stafford-Clark.

At that time, the theatre said it felt “conflictual” to be staging the play, which was co-directed by Stafford-Clark. It said staging the play, “with its themes of grooming and abuses of power on young women”, were at odds with the theatre’s own efforts to tackle abuse in the sector.

Royal Court pulls Max Stafford-Clark production following harassment allegations

However, Royal Court artistic director Vicky Featherstone has now reversed that decision, following claims its plans to not show the play amounted to censorship.

Featherstone said: “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.”

She added: “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.”

When the play runs in January, there will be a series of post-show talks based around themes of the play.

The play is a co-production between Out of Joint and the Royal Court, where the play was originally staged – directed by Stafford-Clark – in 1982.