Max Stafford-Clark

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Maxwell Robert Guthrie Stewart ('Max') Stafford-Clark (born 17 March 1941) is an English theatre director.

Life and career[edit]

Stafford-Clark was educated at Felsted and Riverdale Country School in New York City. He has worked as a theatre director since he left Trinity College, Dublin. He was at Trinity at the same time as Terence Brady, Ralph Bates and Roger Ordish, who all went on to successful careers in acting and/or theatre production. He was also a near contemporary of the poet Michael Longley, whose work he read as a student.

His directing career began as associate director of the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, in 1966. He became artistic director there from 1968–70. He was director of the Traverse Theatre Workshop Company from 1970 to 1974.

Stafford-Clark co-founded the Joint Stock Theatre Company in 1974. 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, which was the first promenade production in England.[1]

From 1979 to 1993 he was Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre. He remains to date the Court's longest serving Artistic Director. In a difficult period for new writing, he helped nurture emerging playwrights such as 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).

He has also staged productions for Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival.[2][3][4][5]

Academic credits include an honorary doctorate from Oxford Brookes University and Professorships at the University of Warwick and the University of Hertfordshire.

Out of Joint[edit]

In 1993 he founded the Out of Joint touring company with producer Sonia Friedman. Recent productions include:

Personal life[edit]

Stafford-Clark married, first, Carole Hayman in 1971 and, after that marriage was dissolved, Ann Pennington in 1981.[citation needed] In 2006, Stafford-Clark suffered a stroke.[citation needed] He returned to work and directed the production of The Overwhelming on Broadway in October 2007, as well as continuing to direct for Out of Joint.[citation needed] In August 2010 he married his third wife, the playwright Stella Feehily.[citation needed] He has one daughter, Kitty Stafford-Clark, by his second marriage.[citation needed]


  • 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


  1. ^ Philip Roberts and Max Stafford-Clark, Taking Stock: the Theatre of Max Stafford-Clark, 2007
  2. ^ Masters, Time. "Beckett festival to feature play in the dark". BBC. 
  3. ^ Slater, Sasha. "Going to the Opera". Harper's Bazaar. 
  4. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa. "Sophie Hunter: The opera director who has to dodge paparazzie". Sophie Hunter Central. 
  5. ^ Kennedy, Maev. "Happy Days festival's Beckett treats to include a German Godot". The Guardian. 

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