The Royal Court has backed out of a decision to cancel a production of Rita, Sue and Bob Too after the theatre was accused of censorship.
The theatre had axed the Out Of Joint touring production after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against the company’s founder, Max Stafford-Clark. However, accusations of censorship have since been levelled at the Royal Court, leaving its artistic director, Vicky Featherstone, “rocked to the core”.
In a statement Featherstone announced that she had invited the production back to the theatre for its run. She said the Royal Court was “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.”
She added: “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.”
The production had been due to run for two and a half weeks in January, before being cancelled earlier this week by the Royal Court, which recently held a day of action at the theatre and published an industry code of behaviour to prevent sexual harassment and abuse of authority.
Stafford-Clark has left Out Of Joint, but the Royal Court said on Wednesday that staging the show, which features abuses of power on young women, now feels “highly conflictual”.
The play was written when Dunbar was 18 and became notorious for its opening scene where two schoolgirl babysitters take it in turns to have sex with their employer in the back of his car.
A film version, released in 1987, starred Siobhan Finneran, Michelle Holmes and George Costigan. It emerged recently that Stafford-Clark, who forged a reputation as a champion of female playwrights, was forced to leave the company he founded following a complaint about sexualised comments.
His spokesman previously issued a statement denying “any physical contact of a sexual nature” but apologising for “any inappropriate behaviour that made some former colleagues feel uncomfortable”, and saying that he was diagnosed with “occasional disinhibition” following a stroke in 2006.