Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round: 1978

This page contains a more detailed guide to significant events concerning Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round in 1978.


  • January: Mrs Veronica Pemberton-Billing - better known as PB - dies at her home in Longwestgate (formerly the home of Stephen Joseph, later the home of Alan Ayckbourn). PB had been Stephen Joseph's housekeeper from 1957 to his death in 1967 and was an active member of the theatre, including a board member.
  • Spring: After three years of fund-raising, the company is presented with a theatre van by the Friends of the theatre.
  • Spring: Plans are announced to build a small end-stage Studio auditorium by moving the coffee bar and converting office space.
  • Spring: The In-The-Round Amateur Theatre Festival is relaunched at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, adjudicated by Alan Ayckbourn; the festival launched by Stephen Joseph at the Library Theatre in 1960 was a staple of the theatre’s schedule between 1960 and 1968.
  • 1 April: Theatre In The Round At Westwood is renamed the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round.
  • 2 May: The Spring / Summer season opens with Rookery Nook by Ben Travers; this marks the first time the company has produced a play by the farceur Ben Travers, who visits the theatre. The director, Alan Ayckbourn, is not happy with the production but Travers reportedly enjoys his visit - and a copious amount of champagne!
  • 5 June: Lunchtime concerts featuring guest artists begin in the Studio on Mondays. Their popularity will see them continue into the winter season and become a regular fixture for the next three years.
  • 20 June: A production of Plaza Suite marks the first production of a Neil Simon play by the company; originally scheduled to close on 6 September, it is kept in the repertory until 7 October.
  • 8 July: The youth drama group Rounders is formed for children aged between 7 - 12 years. Run by Tessa Harrison, the initial season attracts 54 members and is so successful it quickly becomes a permanent Saturday morning event; previously Rounders had been the name of the Saturday morning performances for children at the venue. Rounders ran until 2023, by which point it had grown and was open to any 5 - 18 year olds. It was replaced in 2023 by the application by audition Stephen Joseph Youth Theatre.
  • 8 July: A children's puppet show based on Frank L Baum's The Wizard Of Oz is launched on Saturday mornings. Its phenomenal popularity sees the run extended to 28 October from 19 August.
  • 16 July: Nicholas Parsons visits the theatre for a night with his revue We British, or Oh Britannia. The Friends of the theatre noted there was 'a disappointingly small' turnout.
  • September: Despite the change of the theatre's name, the supporters organisation is still known as The Friends of Scarborough Theatre-In-The-Round with membership now standing at 680.
  • 10 October: The Autumn / Winter season opens with the world premiere of Patriotic Bunting by Brian Thompson; this is the first play produced by the company which is set in its home town of Scarborough.
  • 15 October: An experimental four-week season of Sunday night jazz concerts in the Studio is launched beginning with a concert by John Brown's Bodies; eighty people are reported to have attended the first concert.
  • 7 November: A production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead marks the only - as of writing - play by Tom Stoppard to be produced by the company.
  • 18 December: The company presents Ghost Stories In The Bar as a seasonal adult entertainment with members of the company reading ghost stories in the theatre bar over three evenings.
Article by and copyright of Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce this article without permission of the copyright holder.