Royal Court Reverses Rita, Sue and Bob Too cancellation

Vicky Featherstone, Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre:

“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.”

 Performance dates and times will remain the same and tickets will go on sale from Thursday 21st December at noon.

There will be post show talks after the performances, to be announced.

What a mess from the Royal Court. A theatre that has been bold to bring conversation about harassment in the industry through its Town Hall talk No Grey Area has misjudged the situation badly. Whatever your opinion on Andrea Dunbar’s work it felt wrong to me to censor a woman, who is no longer around to defend her work after her death in 1990 at the age of 29, because of the actions of the director who brought her work to the Royal Court in 1982.

Who can blame Royal Court for desperately wanting to distance themselves from Max Stafford-Clark following allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour towards Out of Joint staff and fellow creatives but Stafford-Clark was no longer involved in this revival, having left directorial duties after a few days of rehearsal.

As good as the intentions of the Royal Court are I am not sure I can applaud the decision to reverse their decision as much as others have done. Firstly I don’t think Vicky Featherstone owned the original decision appropriately. The “I’ve come in to save Dunbar’s memory” is very much under Featherstone’s name. The original decision, a generic statement from Royal Court and Out Of Joint.

I am very uncomfortable with the fact that a theatre that has made itself the Social Justice Warrior has happily ignored the voice of a working class woman. Theatre struggles with a dominance of white. middle class and male voices. The Royal Court should have seen this as a celebration of Dunbar’s work, what can happen if women are actually allowed to talk about their experiences in life but instead made it all about their relationship with a disgraced director.

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