Stephen Joseph Theatre: Timeline (1996 - 2009)

The timeline offers an at-a-glance guide to significant events at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, from its opening in 1996 to Alan Ayckbourn's departure as Artistic Director in 2009.

Click on a highlighted year below or button to the right to read more in-depth details about the year's events.
Stephen Joseph Theatre officially opens with Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical By Jeeves on 30 April; the theatre's conversion final cost is £5.2m; Osborne Christmas Associates win the Empty Space Peter Brooke Theatre award for the conversion; first financial crisis hits the venue - the 'luvvies vs laves' debacle - threatens to close the theatre; Stephen Wood appointed General Administrator; the SJT's first writer-in residence is named as Vanessa Brooks.
Notable world premieres: All Things Considered (Ben Brown); By Jeeves (Alan Ayckbourn / Andrew Lloyd Webber)

The SJT and Paines Plough collaborate for the first time in a co-production of Ged McKenna's
The Farmer's Bride; North Yorkshire County Council threatens to pull all funding leading Alan Ayckbourn to threaten to close the SJT; the BBC records two episodes of Mastermind at the new venue; Alan Ayckbourn's Things We Do For Love becomes the only play at the SJT to reach 100 performances; 10th anniversary revival of The Woman in Black.
Notable world premieres: Things We Do For Love (Alan Ayckbourn); The Edge (Steve Carley); The Farmer's Bride (Ged McKenna)

As a response to the various funding crisis, Alan Ayckbourn plans the SJT's most ambitious season yet 10 By 10 - 10 world or British premieres with a company of 10 actors; the season is led by new plays by Ayckbourn, John Godber and Tim Firth Alan Ayckbourn and his trilogy The Norman Conquests named in the National Theatre's top 100 of the 20th century.
Notable world premieres: Comic Potential (Alan Ayckbourn); Perfect Pitch (John Godber); Figuring Things (Michael Fosbrook); About Colin (Robert Shearman); Bolt From The Blue (Neil Monaghan)

Alan Ayckbourn marks his 60th birthday with
House & Garden - an ambitious production in which two inter-related plays are performed simultaneously in The Round and The McCarthy sharing the same cast; the SJT is licensed as a wedding venue; Torben Betts named writer-in-residence; North Yorkshire County Council increases its subsidy; Ben Brown premieres the highly acclaimed play Larkin With Women starring Oliver Ford Davies as the poet Philip Larkin; the Chorus of Approval new writing fund is launched.
Notable world premieres: House & Garden (Alan Ayckbourn); A Listening Heaven (Torben Betts); Larkin With Women (Ben Brown); Designs On His Body (Helen Kelly)

Stephen Joseph Theatre is nominated for Theatre Of The Year at the Barclays Theatre Awards and
Larkin With Women wins Best New Play at same awards; Alan Ayckbourn writes his second trilogy Damsels In Distress designed to introduce a repertory company back into the theatre; the first Ayckbourn and the Round theatre school event is held; plans to celebrate the end of the millennium with a retrospective of plays from every decade fall flat.
Notable world premiere:
Clockwatching (Torben Betts); the Damsels in Distress trilogy (Alan Ayckbourn)

To celebrate the new millennium, practically every play this year is a world premiere; the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, and the SJT announce a new ongoing collaboration on plays; world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's acclaimed
Damsels in Distress trilogy; world premiere of Amaretti Angels by Sarah Phelps - who would go on to considerably writing success.
Notable world premieres: Damsels In Distress (Alan Ayckbourn); Clockwatching (Torben Betts); Amaretti Angels (Sarah Phelps)

Alan Ayckbourn's
Damsels in Distress trilogy becomes the first SJT production to transfer directly to the West End with the original Scarborough company; Tim Firth's The Safari Party premieres at the Stephen Joseph Theatre - the final play Alan Ayckbourn will direct which is not written by himself First Foot is launched highlighting new commissions in limited productions; Alan Ayckbourn launches his book The Crafty Art of Playmaking at the SJT.
Notable world premieres: The Safari Party (Tim Firth); Man For Hire (Meredith Oakes); Red Roses (Eric Prince)

Laurie Sansom appointed Associate Director; The SJT teams up with the National Youth Music Theatre to stage the venue's largest ever production with the world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's
Orvin - The Champion Of Champions with a cast of more than 40 people; platform talk with Harold Pinter and Alan Ayckbourn ; a visiting production of John Godber's Screaming Blue Murder is delayed when The Round's stage-lift jams - the production moves to Yorkshire Coast College, former home of the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, and the night's show is produced there with just a 30 minute delay!
Notable world premieres: How To Tell The Truth (Chris Dunkley); Making Waves (Stephen Clarke); Bedtime Stories (Lesley Bruce)

World premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's
Private Fears in Public Places - not scheduled and written after being inspired by his new company; the SJT and the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford collaborates on a large-scale end-stage production of Alan Ayckbourn's Season's Greetings for touring; Death of Bob Watson, founder member of the Friends and theatre archivist.
Notable world premieres: Private Fears In Public Places (Alan Ayckbourn); For Starters (Nick Warburton); Her Slightest Touch (Torben Betts); The Ugly Duckling (Vicky Ireland)

The SJT celebrates the 50th anniversary of Stephen Joseph founding Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre in Scarborough - a blue plaque marking the anniversary is installed outside Scarborough Library; the company's first tour to the 59E59 Theaters'
Brits Off Broadway festival in New York with Alan Ayckbourn's Private Fears In Public Places; the SJT first co-production with Frantic Assembly to produce Lisa Evans' Villette; the Duchess of Gloucester visits the SJT; the Micro Musicals festival is launched.
Notable world premieres: Spittin' Distance (Toby Davis / Grant Olding); Caution! Trousers (Kerry Hood); Playing God (Laurence Marks / Maurice Gran); Villette (Lisa Evans)

Alan Ayckbourn suffers a stroke on 21 February - he will spend six months rehabilitating before returning to the theatre to direct the world premiere of his play
If I Were You in September; Laurie Sansom leaves the SJT to become Artistic Director of the Royal & Derngate, Northampton; e-ticketing is launched for the first time the SJT; the archive is ranked The Bob Watson Archive; Laura Harvey steps down as Literary Manager and is not replaced, the Literary Department is essentially shuttered.
Notable world premieres: If I Were You (Alan Ayckbourn); Absolutely Frank (Tim Firth)

The theatre trust board announces Alan Ayckbourn will retire as Artistic Director on 31 March 2009; the SJT Friends celebrates its 30th anniversary; Alan Ayckbourn's lost second play Love After All is discovered by the archivist Simon Murgatroyd in conjunction with the British Library.
Notable world premieres: Touch Wood (Nick Warburton)

Chris Monks is named as Alan Ayckbourn's successor; The SJT OutReach department is launched - an ambitious extension of the theatre's former education department; the Restaurant is renamed and relaunched as 1936; Barrie Rutter appears in his first SJT production in the world premiere of Ben Benison's
Jack Lear; the Gallery hold an exhibition celebrating Alan Ayckbourn's connection with the SJT; Alan Ayckbourn revives Woman in Mind to acclaim starring Janie Dee.
Notable world premiere: Jack Lear (Ben Benison); Cover Her Feet / Fly in the Ointment (Nick Warburton); Awaking Beauty (Alan Ayckbourn)

Alan Ayckbourn's revival of
Woman in Mind transfers to the West End for a limited season; BBC Radio records an episode of With Great Pleasure at the SJT with Alan Ayckbourn; Alan Ayckbourn receives the Lawrence Olivier Award Special Award; Alan Ayckbourn steps down as Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre on 31 March after 37 years in the role; Chris Monks succeeds him as Artistic Director on 1 April.

Between opening in 1996 and Alan Ayckbourn stepping down as Artistic Director on 31 March 2009, the Stephen Joseph Theatre staged 157 plays of which 100 plays were world premieres.

Article by and copyright of Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.

The History section of A Round Town is dedicated to the memory of Stephen Wood, Executive Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre from 1996 to 2015 and Press Officer of the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round from 1976 to 1982.