Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round: 1986

This page contains a more detailed guide to significant events concerning Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round in 1986.


  • February: Robin Herford is appointed Director of Productions / joint Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round to run the company on a day-to-day basis whilst Alan Ayckbourn (who remains Artistic Director) take his two year sabbatical at the National Theatre.
  • April: Russ Allen becomes the theatre's publicity officer. He is notorious for both publicity stunts and a very public presence during his two year tenure.
  • 4 April: It is reported in the press that the theatre is £22,000 (later revealed to be £17,000) in debt to the Midland Bank following a publication of a letter from the bank to the theatre; it is not clear why the theatre's press office chose to leak a letter suggesting it had financial difficulties.
  • Late April: The theatre's press officer, Russ Allen, claims the theatre could be the target of terrorists following the US bombing of Libya.
  • May: Scarborough Building Society begins sponsorship at the theatre. The company provides funding towards a new pay, Stephen Mallatratt's Touch Wood & Whistle.
  • Summer: Alan Ayckbourn leaves the theatre to begin his two year sabbatical as a Company Director at the National Theatre.
  • 29 May: The Spring / Summer season opens with Time & Time Again by Alan Ayckbourn.
  • 1 June: The Sunday Night concerts are renamed Scarborough Rock and the summer season includes famed folk singer Martin Carthy.
  • 16 July: World premiere of Stephen Mallatratt's Touch Wood & Whistle; the first new play written for the company by the actor, playwright & screenwriter since his return in 1985 following a six year absence from the company.
  • July: A short-lived partnership between the theatre's restaurant The Square Cat and the vegetarian chef Sarah Brown - who ran a restaurant in the town - comes to a close after two months with publicity officer Russ Allen saying: "most of our customers are not vegetarians and there is a demand for meals containing meat."
  • 31 July: Relations between the theatre and BBC Radio York seriously deteriorate leading the radio station to abandon plans to broadcast the theatre's Scarborough Rock concerts and threatening to stop covering the theatre if its staff were 'verbally abused by your staff, as happened on a recent occasion.'
  • August: A new initiative ostensibly aimed at streamlining the theatre's amateur programme into a single season leads to several societies complaining to the Scarborough Evening News about the publicity officer Russ Allen's comments and a perceived acrimonious attitude towards the amateurs as well as sharply increased costs.
  • 20 August: It is reported a thief broke into the building, only to steal the theatre's alarm bell!
  • September: The theatre launches its first regular drama workshops for adults led by Alison Keyes called the Open Door theatre project. Aimed at 16 - 25 year olds, it offers a chance to learn writing, acting and directing skills.
  • 17 September: The Autumn / Winter season opens with Benefactors by Michael Frayn.
  • November: The Financial Times critic Michael Coveney reports Alan Ayckbourn is considering not returning to Scarborough from the National Theatre. As Alan has always stated he would return to Scarborough, never actually stood down as Artistic Director and made plans for the two years until his return, the report is dismissed as gossip and based on the theatre's rocky relationship with Scarborough Council. No credible source is ever been given for the report.
  • In response to Michael Coveney's story above, it emerges Alan Ayckbourn has never drawn his wage as Artistic Director of the theatre (since 1972), has invested more than £70,000 into the theatre and gives 1% of his London royalties to the theatre.
  • 13 November: BBC Radio 2's Around Midnight is broadcast live from the theatre with guests including Alan Ayckbourn and Robin Herford.
  • 23 December: Alan Ayckbourn is appointed a Freeman of the Borough of Scarborough.
Article by and copyright of Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce this article without permission of the copyright holder.