Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round: 1988

This page contains a more detailed guide to significant events concerning Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round in 1988.

Note: The year 1988 is a challenging one for researchers into the history of the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round as it was dominated by the resignation of the Theatre Manager Ian Watson and his increasingly public feud with the theatre and the Directing Manager Russ Allen. With so many accusations and counter-accusations flying throughout this period, it is difficult to take many of the reports - certainly involving statistic or financial figures - at face value. Further information about this issue can be found here.


  • 4 January: The Scarborough Evening News announces Ian Watson, Administrative Director of the theatre, is to leave his post to concentrate in writing.
  • 15 January: It is announced the popular Scarborough Rocks concerts are to be axed apparently due to staff shortages; the actual reason being lighting technicians were unable to work overtime on the theatre's plays because they were working on the concerts.
  • 17 January: Author Beryl Bainbridge is interviewed as part of a recording for the pilot episode of a new BBC Radio 4 series Chapter & Verse at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round.
  • 20 January: The company tours Europe with Alan Ayckbourn's Henceforward… in association with the British Council.
  • An amateur production of Mike Harding's Fur Coat & No Knickers by Cresta Players causes a stir with a poster which is banned from many shops and has to have its corner turned up at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round! The company later reports the show has broken all box office records for any production it has staged.
  • February: Publicity Officer Russ Allen organises for a sign welcoming people to Scarborough and the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Road on a major road into the town; Scarborough Council later informs the theatre it needed planning permission and the sign must be removed.
  • May: After the success of Scarborough lecturer and playwright Eric Prince at the National Student Drama Festival, an approach to the organisation is made to hold the event in Scarborough in 1990; the festival not only comes to the town in 1990 but adopts Scarborough as its home venue.
  • 2 June: Advertised opening day for State Of The Union by Peter Tinniswood. The play is pulled from the schedule prior to rehearsals and replaced with Eden End.
  • State Of The Union had been widely advertised in an oblique series of postcards, advert and posters advertising the play's fictional town of Hallam-on-Sands with little mention of the theatre or the actual play; this will later lead to accusations that publicity officer Russ Allen has wasted more than £2,000 on the campaign.
  • 2 June: The Summer season opens with Eden End by J.B. Priestley.
  • 2 June: Former Theatre Manager Ian Watson launches a scathing attack on the theatre in the media with Publicity Manager Russ Allen bearing the brunt of the accusations and criticisms. The criticisms are later refuted but no action is taken against Watson.
  • 10 June: Private Eye magazine reprints many of Watson's allegations about Allen; Allen responds in a later edition but refuses to give credence to the allegations.
  • Late June: Having had to remove its sign on Seamer Road earlier in the year, a new and approved sign is installed sponsored by Scarborough firm Ralfatac,
  • 6 July: World premiere of The Parasol by Frank Dunai, an adaptation of Chekhov's novel Three Years.
  • 30 July: Saturday morning entertainment for children season with Magic Punch & Judy Spectacular until 3 September; a two part show with Magic with Roni Shachnaey and Brian Frow's Punch & Judy Spectacular.
  • August: All of the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round existing 340 seats are replaced by seats from Scarborough's recently closed Floral Hall theatre.
  • 10 August: World premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's Man Of The Moment which includes a section of a practical swimming pool!
  • September: Gordon Townsend is appointed the theatre's first Script Reader - essentially the company's first Literary Manager; he had been doing the job but without formal recognition for the previous two years.
  • 14 September: World premiere of The Ballroom by Peter King in which the entire company learns to ballroom dance; this acclaimed play marks Peter's first play at the theatre since 1974.
  • 2 November: The Winter Season opens with The Beaux Stratagem by George Farquhar.
  • With Alan Ayckbourn's return to the theatre, Robin Herford steps down as Director Of Productions having been with the company since 1976. He will go on to an acclaimed directing career including returning to direct at the Stephen Joseph Theatre on several occasions.
  • 29 December: The Scarborough Evening News announces Marketing Director Russ Allen is to leave the theatre to take up a post at Leicester Haymarket Theatre.
Article by and copyright of Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce this article without permission of the copyright holder.