The Companies & Trusts

This page gives details of the various companies and trusts which have run theatre in the round in Scarborough since it opened in 1955. A timeline for these companies can also be found here.

Studio Theatre Ltd & Theatre In The Round Ltd

Studio Theatre Ltd was the company originally created by Stephen Joseph to run Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre. It was briefly superseded by Theatre In The Round Ltd between 1963 and 1964 before Scarborough Theatre Trust was formed in 1964, which continues to run the company to this day. A timeline for the various Trusts and charities associated with the SJT since 1955 can be found here.

Studio Theatre Ltd (occasionally referred to as the Studio Theatre Company by Stephen Joseph in his writing and correspondence) was formed in 1955 in order for Stephen to realise his plan of forming a theatre company which could champion both new writing and new theatre forms. In his book,
Theatre In The Round, Stephen describes it as: "An educational and charitable company for the purpose of presenting new plays."

An early flyer for the inaugural season at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre elucidates further: "Studio Theatre Limited is a non-profit distributing company founded in consultation with the Arts Council of Great Britain to present theatre-in-the-round."

Although it is not known precisely when Studio Theatre Ltd was launched as a company, it seems likely it was 1955 at the point in which Stephen began negotiations to produce a theatre season in Scarborough on the first floor of the Public Library; there is little evidence to suggest it existed before 1955. Once launched,
shares were available in the company to the value of £1,000. The company offered 50 'A' shares at a value of £10 each and 500 'B' shares at a value of one pound each.

Interestingly, although Stephen mentions it was a charitable company, there is no record of a company with the name Studio Theatre Ltd being registered as a charity until 17 January 1964.

Studio Theatre Ltd ran the summer and winter seasons at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, and was responsible for the winter tours held between 1958 and 1962. It also operated the
Studio Theatre Club, which ran between 1958 and 1961 presenting plays in London (predominantly with the Scarborough company) with the hope of securing interest in theatre-in-the-round in the capital. A list of the Studio Theatre Club productions can be found here.

In 1962, having secured a permanent home for theatre-in-the-round at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent (in a converted former cinema), Studio Theatre Ltd transferred to Stoke-on-Trent with the majority of the Scarborough acting company, its assets and funding; although a blow was struck when Studio Theatre Ltd's funding was halved by the Arts Council. This marked the end of the company's association with Scarborough and Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre.

Theatre In The Round Ltd

Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre in Scarborough had become well established by this point and Stephen Joseph was reluctant to let go of all his work. Although it cannot be said with certainty, existing correspondence from Stephen Joseph intimates that ideally Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre would have continued to be run by Studio Theatre Ltd even after the company had moved to Newcastle-under-Lyme.

However, when the Arts Council halved the annual subsidy to Studio Theatre Ltd, the choice was a stark one of closing the company - and with it both the Victoria Theatre and Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre - or for Studio Theatre Ltd to concentrate on the Victoria Theatre alone with a much reduced programme. Stephen reported that the directors of the company chose the latter:

"As far as Scarborough is concerned you will see that the Studio Theatre company has decided to withdraw entirely rather than carry on without the necessary help from subsidy."
(Stephen Joseph, 24 April 1963)

In order to keep professional drama at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre, Stephen set up a new company - Theatre In The Round Ltd - of which he and David Campton were the directors and to which Studio Theatre Ltd agreed to cede control of Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre to. It is not known precisely when Stephen set up the company, but correspondence indicates it was probably early 1963 (it can be no earlier than mid-October 1962 and has to be prior to April 1963).

As a result, Theatre In The Round Ltd was set up on a shoe-string budget and ran the 1963 and 1964 professional summer seasons (lack of funding had led to the end of both the Scarborough winter seasons and touring programme). Sadly, no other details are known about the company (its existence was only verified in 2015 by Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist Simon Murgatroyd) or when it was specifically incorporated. There is also no record of what, if any, of Studio Theatre Ltd's holdings related to Scarborough transferred to the new company such as publicity images. Certainly the company's logo - previously seen on all programmes in Scarborough up until 1962 - was kept by Studio Theatre Ltd and transferred to Stoke as a new logo had to be created for Scarborough. It's also worth noting that many of the physical holdings relating to Scarborough such as the seating rostra, lighting desk and the exterior fascia for the company had been sold by Stephen Joseph to
Scarborough Theatre Guild years earlier and were either loaned or rented to the company.

In 1964, a new company was formed and on 18 July, a meeting of subscribers to Scarborough Theatre Trust Ltd "Resolved that the Scarborough Theatre Trust Ltd., be incorporated as a company limited by guarantee and not having a share capital." It is not clear why Stephen felt it necessary to form another company to run Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre.

Although it is not known in what capacity it operated after this, Theatre In The Round Ltd continued to be run by Stephen as occasional mentions are made of the company in Scarborough Theatre Trust correspondence and minutes; in fact when Stephen Joseph stepped down as chairman of Scarborough Theatre Trust in 1966, it was revealed the only debt the trust had was £50 owed to Theatre In The Round Ltd for hire of the company's van.

Scarborough Theatre Trust: The Company

Scarborough Theatre Trust was incorporated as a company on 11 August 1964. It replaced Theatre In The Round Ltd which had run the company for the past two years after Stephen Joseph had opened the UK's first in-the-round venue at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, in October 1962, relocating Studio Theatre Ltd and - it's believed - all its assets to the Victoria Theatre.

In 1965, Stephen Joseph closed Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre with Scarborough Theatre Trust kept in operation purely with the intention of finding a permanent home for a theatre-in-the-round company - not necessarily in Scarborough. However, moves were immediately made - independent of Stephen Joseph, who had at this point been diagnosed with terminal cancer - to re-open Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre.

Led by the theatre manager
Ken Boden, plans were drawn to re-open Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre as a professional venue for the 1967 summer season. Having, spoken to the Arts Council and other bodies - including Scarborough Town Council - who were broadly supportive of the plan, Ken approached Stephen about the plans with the intention of forming a new theatre trust. Stephen suggested instead he hand over Scarborough Theatre Trust to save on expenses and to keep continuity. This was agreed providing no existing debts were carried over to the 'new' trust.

In a board meeting on 12 October 1966 (which was followed by the Annual General Meeting, which essentially relaunched the trust), Stephen Joseph stepped down alongside the secretary Maurice Plows. It was also agreed the company's only contingent liability of £50 (owed to Theatre In The Round Ltd for the use of the company's van) would be settled. The slate was wiped clean and the company entered a new phase of its life,

At the Annual General Meeting, a new chairman for Scarborough Theatre Trust was appointed in Dr N. Walsh alongside a new council of Alfred Bradley, Ken Boden, Margaret Boden and Donald McLauchlan (with Ken Boden also secretary). During the meeting, an intention to stage a summer season from 10 July - 16 September 1967 was confirmed alongside the appointment of Rodney Wood as Director of Productions.*

Scarborough Theatre Trust continues to run the Stephen Joseph Theatre to this day and which - amongst many other things - is responsible for appointing the theatre's Artistic Director and Executive Director. It was Scarborough Theatre Trust which appointed
Alan Ayckbourn as Artistic Director of Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre on 12 November 1972 and subsequently appointed his successors.

Scarborough Theatre Trust (company no. 00815227 / registered charity no.
253606) is a separate charitable trust to Scarborough Theatre Development Trust (company no. 02801491 registered charity no. 1019185), which was incorporated on 15 March 1993 and which is the custodian leaseholder of the Stephen Joseph Theatre building. Details of Scarborough Theatre Trust can be found at Companies House here.

Scarborough Theatre Trust should not be mixed up with Scarborough Theatre Development Trust, which was formed in 1993 to oversee the conversion of Scarborough's former Odeon cinema into the Stephen Joseph Theatre and which is responsible for maintaining the building amongst other responsibilities. Further details about the Development Trust can be found at Companies House

Details of Alan Ayckbourn's position at the Stephen Joseph Theatre and relationship with the theatre and Scarborough Theatre Trust can be found

Scarborough Theatre Trust: The Charity

Scarborough Theatre Trust was registered as a charity on 18 September 1967 (immediately following the end of the summer season) and has remained as a charitable trust ever since.

Its activities are officially listed as: "To advance the education of the public in all aspects of dramatic art including drama, opera, dance, music and film. The development of public appreciation of such art by the provision of a theatre and the presentation of public performances to further the social and cultural welfare of the community of Scarborough, its neighbourhood and visitors." Its charitable objectives are defined as: "To promote, maintain, improve, and advance education particularly by the production of educational plays and the encouragement of the arts."

Further information about Scarborough Theatre Trust can be found online at the Charities Commissions website

* This part of the Trust's history is slightly confusing as the minutes of the two Scarborough Theatre Trust meetings on 12 October 1966 include a substantive date error. The first meeting of the evening in which Stephen Joseph stepped down as chairman is dated Wednesday 12 October 1967 (and the minutes makes a further incorrect date reference to another meeting). However, the minutes of the AGM which follow are correctly dated to meeting to Wednesday 12 October 1966. It is somewhat surprising the board did not realise or correct the error as - as it stands - they indicate Stephen was present at a meeting seven days following his death on 5 October 1967.
Article by and copyright of Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce the articles without permission of the copyright holder.