Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round: 1979

This page contains a more detailed guide to significant events concerning Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round in 1979.


  • A grant of £105,000 from Scarborough Town Council, the English Tourist Board and the Arts Council of Great Britain is awarded to the company to build new offices, a costume store, storage, a rehearsal room, improved facilities and to add air-conditioning to the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round.
  • 2 February: BBC1 broadcasts Alan Ayckbourn and Paul Todd's revue Men On Women On Men, which had been premiered in Scarborough the previous summer and recorded with most of the original company in Leeds in early 1979, directed by Alan Ayckbourn.
  • 19 January: A three day residential course called Comedy On Stage is held at the theatre, focusing on the work of Alan Ayckbourn and Tom Stoppard.
  • 4 February: The supporters' organisation title is altered from Friends Of Scarborough Theatre-In-The-Round to Friends Of The Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round.
  • First international tour from the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round presenting - in association with the British Council - Sisterly Feelings in Brussels, Rotterdam, Bad Godesberg, Arnhem, Amsterdam, Herford, Cologne, Eindhoven.
  • March: A close-circuit television system is installed in the theatre bar so that late-comers are able to watch the action of the play until the interval when they can then take their seats; as the entire audience entered the auditorium via the stage, late-comers have to wait until the interval to enter.
  • 31 March: Scarborough Theatre Trust agrees to raise the price of tickets to £2.40 for reserved seating and £1.90 for unreserved seating; at this point 90 seats were considered unreserved and 213 seats reserved.
  • 3 April: The first Festival of Young People's Theatre is launched at the theatre by Tessa Harrison; it lasts for five days and features performances from young people drawn from throughout the region.
  • 1 May: The Spring / Summer season opens with The Seagull by Anton Chekhov.
  • 23 June: The world premiere of Saint Trixie by Stephen Mallatratt is apparently the first play staged at the theatre to use the word 'fuck'; it generates no known complaints despite the fact that 21 years later, the use of the same word in the Alan Ayckbourn play Virtual Reality generates a host of complaints!
  • 8 July: Following the successful experiment the previous year, Sunday night concerts are expanded to take place through the summer season in the Studio and become a popular fixture of the theatre's programming for the next decade.
  • 24 July: World premiere of Brian Thompson's Tishoo; this will be the first play premiered in Scarborough and not written by Alan Ayckbourn to transfer into the West End, opening on 24 October 1979.
  • 27 September: The Autumn / Winter season opens with the world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's Taking Steps; famously the volume of laughter on the first night overloads the theatre's antiquated relay system.
  • October: A one-day snooker championship is held at the theatre; the line-up includes world champion Terry Griffiths, the newly turned professional Steve Davies and 'promising amateur' Jimmy White.
  • 26 October: Hull University holds a residential weekend at the theatre entitled Improvisation In Theatre Work.
  • 6 November: The opening night of Arthur Miller's The Crucible features the largest company ever seen at the theatre with a cast of 19 actors.
  • 24 November: After disappointing attendance for the first several performances of The Crucible, the box office turns away 200 people on the final night of the production leading Alan Ayckbourn to write an exasperated letter to the Friends of the theatre pleading for them to show their support earlier in the runs.
  • The Stephen Joseph Occasionals cricket team - which features Alan Ayckbourn as wicket-keeper - is formed and wins its first two matches.
  • Between Between April and September 1979, attendance at the theatre dropped by 10,000 people; despite this the theatre was still more profitable than the previous year.
Article by and copyright of Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce this article without permission of the copyright holder.