Lockdown has given many theatre companies much-needed time to reflect, reassess, redesign and relaunch in anticipation of re-opening in the near future. Not least among those seizing the opportunity is the company we all know as Out of Joint, which from now on will be known as Stockroom.
We are now ready for a creative leap into a new relationship with our writers and audiences.
The history of its predecessors shows that this is not its first stocktake. The original Joint Stock Theatre Company was renowned for inspiring and producing new works with creativity, vision and imagination at the heart of its mission. Founded in 1974 by David Hare, Max Stafford-Clark, Paul Kember and David Aukin, with director William Gaskill also on board, it set out with a wealth of talent at its disposal. It soon carved a niche for attracting talented writers drawn to its methodology of collaborative research and workshops which became known as The Joint Stock Method. A few examples from the many plays that emerged from the strategy vouch for its success: Hare's Fanshen, Howerd Brenton's Epsom Downs, Stephen Lowe's Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and Caryl Churchill's Cloud Nine.
That company was wound down in 1989, but four years later Stafford-Clark, along with Sonia Friedman, founded Out of Joint. Much of the style of its predecessor company was carried over, but additional emphases were also incorporated into the new venture. Out of Joint was to be a touring company that would extend beyond the UK to international locations, subsequently visiting six continents. It similarly attracted some of the most celebrated writers of the day, but in addition to presenting new material, it also took on revivals of some of the classics.
Stafford-Clark left the company in 2017 and was superseded as Artistic Director by Kate Wasserberg. Commenting on the latest development Wasserberg explains, “At this time of radical change for the company, it feels right to look to the future with a new identity. The name Stockroom represents everything we have built at the company over the last three years, celebrating our new model for creating work collectively with an on-staff writers room”.
According to the company, that ‘room’ consists of ‘a diverse team of six theatre-makers, drawn from a wide range of backgrounds to collaborate in the creation of bold and ambitious productions with a broad appeal’. Assisted by an award from the Cultural Recovery Fund, the change of name comes with a move into a new building; the hub of the creative drive that will seek to build strong links with the local community and create space for writers and other artists.
Looking forward to ‘a thrilling time’ with this new initiative, Executive Producer Martin Derbyshire says, “Stockroom is an identity that we’ve been building for three years. We learned a lot during that period and we are now ready for a creative leap into a new relationship with our writers and audiences”. Given the company’s pedigree its success seems assured and we look forward to the outpouring of exciting new works.