Theatre director and senior lecturer; teaches acting, directing and voice production; supervision of post-graduate students
Clare Stopford’s directing career spans 33 years. Under the mentorship of Barney Simon she established a signature as an emerging director and feminist. She was resident director of the Market Theatre Johannesburg in 1988/9 and later she was appointed associate artistic director in 1997. Auteuring most of her early work primarily around women’s issues, Clare then went on to create some landmark productions at the Market Theatre like A Doll’s House by Hendrik Ibsen, Burn this by Lanford Wilson, Hysteria by Terry Johnson, The Heidi Chronicles by Wendy Wasserstein, Skylight by David Hare, Scenes from an Execution by Howard Barker and Kafka Dances by Timothy Daly, the latter two productions twice winning her the Vitae best director awards both provincially and nationally.
In the last 14 years Clare has largely dedicated herself to developing new South African plays by directing them as often as she can. She was responsible for the first production of Mike van Graan’s successful and much studied Green Man Flashing and the first version of Lara Foot’s Solomon and Marion (then called Reach). She also directed Neil McCarthy’s Stormriders, Barry Berk’s Hanna hanna ek se, Sue Pam Grant’s Chasing Chairs, Bongi Ndaba’s Shreds and Dreams, Plewman and Rand’s The Insatiables, Ian Bruce’s Transit and Les Morrison’s Prize of Peace. She has been responsible for mentoring many young playmakers and directors for the NAF, NATA, the Arts Administration Network and the Actors Centre. In 2008 she initiated ‘Flare’ – a three month programme for emerging female directors.
The directing of new South African plays was also the topic of Clare’s MA which she completed in 2013. In her thesis she explored the collaboration between writer and director on a first production of a new playtext, problematizing it with a feminist frame. What happens when the director is feminist? How is meaning inflected? This subject still forms the focus of her academic writing for conferences and publications.
In 2014 Clare was appointed senior lecturer in the Department of Drama. She teaches acting, voice and directing to all levels of students and supervises dissertations at the post-graduate level. Acting is taught through productions at the higher level and to this end Clare has directed students in The Crucible (Miller), Threepenny Opera (Brecht), Welcome to Thebes (Moira Buffini) and Black dog/InJ’Emnyama (Barney Simon and cast). The latter was invited to transfer to the Baxter Theatre as part of the Barney Simon 20th anniversary commemorations.