Max Stafford-Clark admits 'stupidity' over lewd comments 

Top theatre director Max Stafford-Clark, 80, admits ‘stupidity’ after he was ‘ousted’ over lewd comments for ‘telling a colleague, 29, he would have approached her ‘like a rat up a drainpipe’ if he was younger’

  • Max Stafford-Clark, 80, left London’s Out of Joint theatre company in 2017
  • Reportedly made inappropriate and sexualised comments towards three women
  • The staff said they were left feeling ‘objectified’ and in shock at his behaviour 
  • Director has now broken his silence on the sexual harassment allegations
  • Said  the impact of a stroke in 2006 had affected his decision-making
  • An eminent theatre director has admitted ‘stupidly’ after he was allegedly ousted from his own company when he told a colleague that if he were younger he would have approached her ‘like a rat up a drainpipe’.

    Max Stafford-Clark, 80, left London‘s Out of Joint theatre company in October 2017 after he reportedly made inappropriate and sexualised comments towards three women.  

    In  his new book, Some Letters I Never Sent, he broke his silence on the allegations, saying he was in ‘a position of power and did not exercise it with responsibility.’

    Meanwhile he also admitted he often ‘said what I pleased and often exceeded the norms of office banter with members of the opposite sex’.

    Max Stafford-Clark, 80, has admitted 'stupidly' after he was allegedly ousted from his own company when he told a colleague that if he were younger he would have approached her 'like a rat up a drainpipe'

    Max Stafford-Clark, 80, has admitted ‘stupidly’ after he was allegedly ousted from his own company when he told a colleague that if he were younger he would have approached her ‘like a rat up a drainpipe’ 

    Meanwhile Max also suggested a stroke in 2006 after impacted his decision-making skills and made him ’emotionally labile.’

    Writing in his new book, he said the allegations had ‘collapsed his world’, adding: ‘I am certainly not claiming that every provocative or irresponsible remark I made between 2006 and 2017 was caused by the injuries I had suffered. 

    But I am clear that my prevalent proclivity towards provocations was at times exacerbated and uncontrolled.’

    Meanwhile he added that being forced to ‘face the past’ had ‘not been easy’, claiming that he had ‘pulled open the closet and found few rattling skeletons’

    Gina Abolins, then a 29-year-old production assistant,  claimed Mr Stafford-Clark asked her to try on a bikini and encouraged her to have casual sex so she could tell him about it

    Gina Abolins, then a 29-year-old production assistant,  claimed Mr Stafford-Clark asked her to try on a bikini and encouraged her to have casual sex so she could tell him about it

    He also said he felt ‘angry and frustated’ primarily at his own ‘stupidity and unthinking carelessness’. 

    Despite this, he said some allegations were ‘silly’,  continuing: ‘For example, it was alleged that I had lured a female colleague into my office to read a lewd and pornographic scene from a play. 

    ‘The play was in fact Cloud 9 by Caryl Churchill and the colleague was the education manager who had never seen or read it.’   

    He added: ‘I can only say that I deeply regret any behaviour of mine that has caused hurt or offence, and sincerely apologise to any who have been on the receiving end. If it is any consolation, the punishment has been duly severe. Theatre has been my life and its abrupt removal has been hard to bear.’ 

    In a foreword to the book, Danny Boyle pays tribute to Max’s ‘platform building for female writers long before it was fashionable or urgent’.

    Mr Stafford-Clark married his third wife Stella in 2010 and has a daughter, Kitty, from his second marriage. He has used a wheelchair and walking stick since 2006 when he suffered a stroke (pictured with Stella)

    Mr Stafford-Clark married his third wife Stella in 2010 and has a daughter, Kitty, from his second marriage. He has used a wheelchair and walking stick since 2006 when he suffered a stroke (pictured with Stella) 

    The film director writes: ‘He was also simultaneously, as he now admits, abusing language and his position of power in his relationships with some women. With this revelation his reputation is now inexorably tarnished.’ 

    Meanwhile the retired theatre critic Michael Billington said he felt that ‘it is time for forgiveness’, adding: ‘Your family, notably your amazing wife Stella, and your daughter Kitty, have stood loyally by you during these difficult years.’ 

    In July 2017, Gina Abolins, then-29, a production assistant, told the theatre company’s board that the director, who uses a wheelchair, said to her: ‘Back in the day, I’d have been up you like a rat up a drainpipe.’

    She claimed Mr Stafford-Clark asked her to try on a bikini and encouraged her to have casual sex so she could tell him about it.

    Miss Abolins told The Guardian she felt ‘bullied and objectified’ by the director’s lewd comments and claimed he exerted ‘his power in a crude manner’.

    Mr Stafford-Clark married his third wife Stella in 2010 and has a daughter, Kitty, from his second marriage. He has used a wheelchair and walking stick since 2006 when he suffered a stroke.

    The director, who was the longest-serving artistic director of London’s Royal Court theatre, co-founded Out of Joint, a small touring company, with producer Sonia Friedman in 1993 (pictured, one of the plays directed by Stafford-Clark)

    The director, who was the longest-serving artistic director of London’s Royal Court theatre, co-founded Out of Joint, a small touring company, with producer Sonia Friedman in 1993 (pictured, one of the plays directed by Stafford-Clark) 

    He explained to Miss Abolins that he could not do what he wanted with her because of his disability.

    She claimed he added: ‘Now I’m a reformed character. My disability means I’m practically a virgin again.’

    Mr Stafford-Clark(pictured at the Out Of Joint theatre company) married his third wife Stella in 2010 and has a daughter, Kitty, from his second marriage

    Mr Stafford-Clark(pictured at the Out Of Joint theatre company) married his third wife Stella in 2010 and has a daughter, Kitty, from his second marriage

    Miss Abolins made a formal complaint to the company. She was given leave and the director was suspended during an investigation. When he announced his retirement Mr Stafford-Clark claimed he was leaving to focus on his ‘freelance career’.

    At the time, the theatre company praised him for ‘his fantastic commissions and bold revivals’ on social media, while others hailed his achievements as one of Britain’s most eminent directors.

    Miss Abolins, who joined Out of Joint in 2016, said she was left feeling ‘upset, frustrated and a little angry’ when his behaviour was not mentioned in the announcement that he was leaving.

    Two other women described their experiences with Mr Stafford-Clark. Steffi Holtz, 25, who was an assistant for the director, said she was left ‘in absolute shock’ at an alleged lewd comment. She also said he touched her on the bottom, commenting on her ‘nice a***’.

    Playwright Rachel De-Lahay told The Guardian that Mr Stafford-Clark asked her about losing her virginity. She said she was angry with herself for answering the inappropriate question. 

    Under Mr Stafford-Clark’s leadership, Out of Joint has championed playwrights such as Caryl Churchill, April De Angelis and Richard Bean, and enjoyed sold-out runs at the National Theatre

    Under Mr Stafford-Clark’s leadership, Out of Joint has championed playwrights such as Caryl Churchill, April De Angelis and Richard Bean, and enjoyed sold-out runs at the National Theatre 

    The director, who was the longest-serving artistic director of London’s Royal Court theatre, co-founded Out of Joint, a small touring company, with producer Sonia Friedman in 1993.

    He started his career at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh and also co-founded the Joint Stock Theatre Company in 1974.

    Under Mr Stafford-Clark’s leadership, Out of Joint has championed playwrights such as Caryl Churchill, April De Angelis and Richard Bean, and enjoyed sold-out runs at the National Theatre.

    THE CAUSES OF STROKE

    There are two major kinds of stroke: 

    1. ISCHEMIC STROKE 

    An ischemic stroke – which accounts for 80 per cent of strokes – occurs when there is a blockage in a blood vessel that prevents blood from reaching part of the brain.

    2. HEMORRHAGIC STROKE 

    The more rare, a hemorrhagic stroke, occurs when a blood vessel bursts, flooding part of the brain with too much blood while depriving other areas of adequate blood supply.

    It can be the result of an AVM, or arteriovenous malformation (an abnormal cluster of blood vessels), in the brain.

    Thirty percent of subarachnoid hemorrhage sufferers die before reaching the hospital. A further 25 per cent die within 24 hours. And 40 per cent of survivors die within a week.

    RISK FACTORS

    Age, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, family history, and history of a previous stroke or TIA (a mini stroke) are all risk factors for having a stroke.

    SYMPTOMS OF A STROKE

    • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
    • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
    • Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes
    • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
    • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

    OUTCOMES 

    Of the roughly three out of four people who survive a stroke, many will have life-long disabilities.

    This includes difficulty walking, communicating, eating, and completing everyday tasks or chores. 

    TREATMENT 

    Both are potentially fatal, and patients require surgery or a drug called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) within three hours to save them. 

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