Simon Stephens: ‘How Theatre will Outlive Netflix’

  • DATE

    28 June 2023

  • TIME

    4:30 pm to 5:30 pm

  • AGES

    All ages welcome

Simon Stephens’ inaugural lecture will not be a lecture.

In a way that is befitting to a dramatic writer it will take the form of a dialogue. He will be in conversation with the Dramaturg at the Royal Exchange Theatre Suzanne Bell. Simon has written for theatre for the last twenty five years. Suz and Simon will talk about his work. They will talk about his process and his work in Manchester in particular. This conversation will take place in the heart of the Manchester International Festival. It will address questions of recurring themes in his work, questions of holding both authenticity and curiosity in creativity, the complexities and contradictions within ‘lived experience’ and the nature of the imagination. At a time when theatre is reeling from the economic catastrophe of the Covid 19 pandemic, leading writers, actors, directors, designers and production artists are leaving the theatre in large numbers and there are urgent questions about the precarious future of new writing on our stages, Simon will address the possibility of taking an optimistic view of the future of the art form. He will be making the obvious and vital case that theatre will survive Netflix, evidencing how and why that survival will happen.


For more than twenty years Simon Stephens work has been widely translated and produced throughout the world. He has won many Awards including Olivier and Tony Awards for new plays. His work ranges from the deeply political, considering such subjects such as the 7/7 London bombings (Pornography) or the possibility of school shootings in the UK (Punk Rock) to the intimate and personal (Heisenberg, Harper Regan). His adaptation of Jose Saramago’s Blindness was made into a light and sound installation that was produced internationally during the Covid 19 pandemic. His most famous play is his adaptation of Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

He has written new English language versions of masterpieces by Chekhov, Ibsen and Brecht, collaborated with the world’s leading theatre practitioners (Patrice Chereau, Ivo Van Hove, Marianne Elliott, Katie Mitchell) and produced original work throughout Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas. He is under commission to the National Theatre in the UK, the Manhattan Theatre Club, the Schauspielhaus Stuttgart and Parco, Tokyo.

He has been Artistic Associate at the Lyric, Hammersmith and Associate Playwright at the Royal Court Theatre. He has taught playwriting workshops in five continents. He has presented four series of the celebrated Playwright’s Podcast from the Royal Court Theatre. He is a Professor at the Writing School of Manchester Metropolitan University.

He lives in East London with his wife, three children, their snake, gecko, three cats and a dog.