Max Stafford-Clark

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Max Stafford-Clark
Maxwell Robert Guthrie Stewart Stafford-Clark

(1941-03-17) 17 March 1941 (age 79)
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[edit]

Stafford-Clark was born in Cambridge, England, the son of Dorothy Crossley (Oldfield) and David Stafford-Clark, a physician.[1] He was educated at Felsted School in 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 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, he was artistic director of the Royal Court Theatre.[2] He remains to date the Court's longest serving artistic director. In a difficult period for new writing, 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 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]

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. He was its 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.

Personal life[edit]

Stafford-Clark and Carole Hayman were married in 1971; after that marriage was dissolved, he and Ann Pennington wed, in 1981.[2] He lived for a period on Gloucester Crescent in Camden Town.

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[edit]

In July 2017, an employee of Stafford-Clark's Out of Joint theatre company made a formal complaint about his behavior;[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]


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.[15] The Library also acquired supplementary production diaries and rehearsal scripts in 2005.[16]

Productions since 2000[edit]


  • Ritchie, R. (1987), The Joint Stock Book, London: Methuen ISBN 0-413-41030-7
  • Stafford-Clark, M. (1997), Letters to George: The Account of a Rehearsal, London: Nick Hern Books ISBN 1-85459-317-X
  • Stafford-Clark, M. and Roberts, P. (2007), Taking Stock: The Theatre of Max Stafford-Clark, London: Nick Hern Books ISBN 1-85459-840-6
  • Stafford-Clark, M. with McKeown, M. (2010), Our Country's Good: Page to Stage, London: Nick Hern Books ISBN 978-1-84842-043-4
  • Stafford-Clark, M. (2014), Journal of the Plague Year, London: Nick Hern Books ISBN 9781848421790


  1. ^ "Max Stafford-Clark Biography (1941-)". Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Europa Publications (2003). The International Who's Who 2004. Psychology Press. p. 1598. ISBN 978-1-85743-217-6.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g 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. ^ a b c Mesure, Susie (10 May 2014). "The NHS and me: A tale of two sicknesses". The Independent. 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. ^ a b Topping, Alexandra (20 October 2017). "Theatre director Max Stafford-Clark was ousted over inappropriate behaviour". The Guardian.
  15. ^ Max Stafford-Clark Papers, archives and manuscripts catalogue, the British Library. Retrieved 21 May 2020
  16. ^ Max Stafford-Clark Papers Supplement, archives and manuscripts catalogue, the British Library. Retrieved 21 May 2020

External links[edit]