Barney Norris: the theatre is still catching up with Max Stafford-Clark

Max Stafford-Clark, Out of joint, the touring company he has led since 1993. It will take a theatre years to catch up with the he is about his work there.

He moves on to a time when the industry finally begin an honest discussion of gender representation, and with the cultural and regional diversity; when the question of what it is to be middle-class has been overtaken by research into how big the world. No theatre could really do to say that five years ago, but it is what is Out of joint.

The list of productions, the first commissioned and directed by Max for the joints is exceptional. The Steward of Christendom and Our lady of Sligo, was Sebastian Barry’s the history of the family in the voice of a country. Caryl Churchill’s Blue heart changed the way people thought about the form of theatre. David Hare’s verbatim play The Permanent way was a nice, shocking allusion to the damage by the forces of the market. Mark Ravenhill’s era-Definition of Shopping and Fucking, the beginning of the last exhausted gasp of the Big government Stripping away the gloss of culture to show what is under. You can add that to the list of Robin Soans’ Talking to terrorists and Mixed in the North, JT Rogers’ The Overwhelming, and Out of joint masterpiece, an Africa-set “Macbeth”.

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Alexander Hanson and leaders chipo Chung in talking to terrorists at the Oxford Playhouse, 2005. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

Big-city residents struggle to understand, how much Max has arrived. There is so much great work around and with changing fashions have meant that from time to time he pushed into the sidings. For those of us who grew up in the sticks in the 90s and 00s, but that was From the Joint work of the only one trying to someone it seemed to be a sincere intellectual engagement with our communities. To speak of his commitment and as many people as possible over others’, because it was never a financial incentive. It was just his warm, instinctive vision of the work of the theatre.

He always championed authors: almost half of his company, the productions were written by women, in a time when other Directors of his generation – and younger – argued that the games were there. He wob a commitment to diversity into the fabric of his company, touring all that he made and staging of the work, spoke for the whole nation.

Serious theatre today, much thanks to Max’s decision, early in his career to resign from the artistic directorship of the Traverse theatre in Edinburgh, to the establishment of the traverse theatre Workshop, on the ground that a theatre could never thrive without a production line. So much of the workshop-model of game development is at the heart of our modern theatre, it begins. He has continued to innovate ever since, keeps the industry of the hand in the fire.

As we, the Rita, Sue and Bob Too made

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I was interested for the first time, the theatre, by reading about Max’s previous company, the joint-stock company. This touring ensemble-created plays with life and passionate intelligence, seemed to be for the country of interest to you. I wish I could have seen him. Instead, I went to see the seams and was spellbound by the discovery that the theatre could be about my world, not just the rich, the dead and famous. Six years later, I was in Max’s assistant.

The film adaptation of Rita, Sue and Bob Too. Max Stafford-Clark directed the original production at the Royal court. Photo: BFI

When I worked with Max, I’ve seen how much he will play it stacked on itself, the role as a conscience of the culture. He spent hour after hour with the Arts Council, with the argument for the importance of what he did, which shorten in the course of a financing; he travelled through the country, the opening productions, and leading post-show discussions; he was probably the only person on the A-level curriculum, gave workshops in the schools on a more than monthly. And he did it all while cope with the effects of a severe stroke.

Max is driven the most, all the theatre, workaholics, and the most competitive. He used to be the race of the people, by the phonetic alphabet, to see who came at the end of the first, for the fun of it. He and I had a reading, the race to see which one of us got through most books in a year. I hit him, but I had to do over 200, and he only had one good eye after the stroke. It was thinking only be a way to focus, his need, to act, to move forward.

He closes his time at the joint with a tour of Andrea Dunbar’s Rita, Sue and Bob, which he commissioned and directed at the Royal court more than 30 years ago. He was always the kind of Director that is ready to pick up the work of a teenager from a Bradford council estate and make it the center of the world.

Rita, Sue and Bob Too is in the Octagon, Bolton until 23 September. Then touring. Barney Norris is the co-artistic Director of Up in the arms of their production of The March on Russia at the Orange Tree theatre, Richmond until 7. October.