Artist of The Month- February- Clare Stearns

Our Artist of the Month is the creator of Mussolini's Mistresses, Clare Stearns. Her upcoming production, in collaboration with Aurora Theatre, will open on March 2nd despite the difficult times the Hong Kong entertainment is facing these days. 

Ms Stearns is a very well-known artist in the scene, and she has been involved in countless productions in various roles. This time, Ms Stearns is not only involved as a writer and director but as a designer as well. As many knows, she has a thing for clothes and fashion, and her good taste will reflect in this production, too. 

Make sure to head to the McAulay Studio on March 2-4 and catch Ms Stearns' work onstage. With the current climate and so many shows wiped out of the programme, Hong Kong is in dire need of arts and entertainment; if nothing else, to press pause on the reality button for at least a little while. 




1. Name, birthplace, age. 

Clare Stearns, born just outside London, of Scottish parents, sixty years ago. 


2. How does where you were raised affect your work? 

Growing up in the 60’s & 70’s in England meant I had a fairly traditional English education. We were constantly reading Shakespeare which I always loved. But we also got to see and read Pinter, Beckett, Osbourne & Miller. Being close to London and having parents who loved the theatre meant that as a child I often saw live performances. One of my earliest memories is of watching The Nutcracker Suite and being terrified!!! 


3. Where did you train? 

From the age of twelve, at the Sanders Theatre School, I did actor training and took the exams for what was then called The Guildhall School of Drama and the New Era Academy. I believe they are now known as Trinity Exams. 

At 18 I went to Shoreditch College, University of London and got a teaching degree in English & Drama. After a few years of teaching, I went back to do a Masters degree at Middlesex University in stage Directing/Designing. 


4. What is your favourite style of theatre? Why?

I don’t have a particular favourite style of theatre because I think all theatre has something to offer- however, I love the work of directors like Robert Le Page, Robert Wilson, Max Stanford Clarke and Emma Rice. I also like theatre presented In a Brechtian manner. I like to be both intellectually and visually stimulated when I watch performances. 


5. What was the best show you EVER saw?


This is a really tough question as over the decades I’ve seen some truly amazing groundbreaking shows. But restricting myself to one a decade I’d say Terry Hand’s Henry V - 1970’s, Stephen Berkoff’s Metamorphosis - 1980’s, Le Page’s Polyograph- 1990’s, Complicite’s- The Visit- 2000’s, Mark Rylance’s La Bette 2010’s and in the last decade anything by Ivo Van Hoven. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Carousel at ENO and Richard Eyre & Mathew Bourne’s Mary Poppins were also pretty amazing shows. 



6. What was the best show in HK you EVER saw?

I’ve seen some incredible shows in the Arts Festival from the companies Cloudgate from Taiwan and Wild Rice from Singapore. 


7. What piece of work are you the proudest?

Again a really tough question as I’ve directed/designed /created or acted in over a hundred shows so I’m going to choose a comedy - Alan Ackbourn’s - Absurd Person Singular, a tragedy - Hamlet, a musical - Kiss me Kate and an original piece Constance. 


8. What is your process like?

I have different processes depending on whether I’m writing, directing or acting but one thing that’s common to all three is research. For me, it is a vital part of my process. I need to be totally immersed in the historical period & socio-political context of the play or character in order to fully understand what I’m doing. 


9. What is your dream project?

I’m very lucky in having already fulfilled most of what I’ve wanted to achieve in my career. However, if there was no limit to the budget I’d like to do what Kenneth Branagh has recently done and that is rent a London theatre for six months and put on a season of three Shakespeare plays with a top-class company of British actors. 


10. What do you think about the arts and theatre scene in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong has a pretty good theatre scene because we do get some great visiting productions from all over the world. However, compared to somewhere like Singapore, we lack sufficient government funding to have a really strong homegrown English Language company. This seems to me absurd in a city where English is a primary language of communication. 

Mussolini's Mistresses plays at McAulay Studio on March 2 through 4 at 7.30 pm. Tickets available at the door or on PayMe 9503 4747. For more information click here