Stephen Joseph Theatre: 1997

This page contains a more detailed guide to significant events concerning the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in 1997.


  • 1 January: Alan Ayckbourn knighted for 'services to theatre'.
  • 3 January: With Scarborough Council due to vote on extra funding for the Stephen Joseph Theatre, the press and media continue to pour fuel into the 'Luvvies Vs Lavvies' debate.
  • 6 January: Scarborough Council votes 37 - 9 to award the SJT an extra £50,000. At the same meeting the Mayor, Mavis Don, points out the whole debate has been 'demeaning' and states for the record it was completely inaccurately portrayed as the money for the theatre and public facilities came from two entirely different budgets and one did not affect the other. It is noted how much negative publicity the town has received as result of the argument.
  • February: The BBC quiz show Mastermind records two episode in The Round.
  • March: North Yorkshire County Council reneges on its tripartite funding agreement with Scarborough Council and Yorkshire and Humberside Arts, threatening to pull its entire subsidy to the SJT, which would have the knock-on effect of removing all funding for the company.
  • March: Alan Ayckbourn threatens to close the SJT in September with a loss of 80 jobs as a result of the loss of funding.
  • Spring: The funding crisis is resolved with Yorkshire and Humberside Arts cutting but not ending its subsidy.
  • 2 April: The National Student Festival visits Scarborough for the fifth consecutive year and the SJT is used as one of its venues for the first time; due to the clash of the opening of the SJT in 1996, the NSDF had not been able to use the theatre having regularly utilised the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round between 1993 - 1995.
  • 15 April: Paines Plough makes its first visit to the theatre with The Wolves by Michael Punter.
  • 24 April: The Gallery's new exhibition Musicals - The Hits and Flops showcases West End musical posters including Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Loyd Webber's notorious 1975 flop Jeeves.
  • 29 April: World premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's Things We Do For Love, written specifically for the end-stage McCarthy auditorium (as opposed to in-the-round for which the majority of his plays have been conceived). It will become the first and only play at this venue, the SJT, to run for more than 100 performances.
  • 21 May: They're Playing Our Song by Neil Simon, Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Singer opens, directed by Alan Ayckbourn and starring Janie Dee and Bill Champion. The chorus also includes Tamzin Outhwaite, whom Alan asks if she will consider taking her first purely acting role in his next production.
  • June: Backstage tours for the public are launched at the SJT; subsequently the mythical story of the theatre ghost is invented and expanded during the tours over the years.
  • 19 June: Lunchtime shows begin at the SJT with the musical revue Just A Song At Lunchtime.
  • 17 July: The Stage reports the SJT "must improve" its management and running following a study by accountants Price Waterhouse commissioned by Scarborough Council.
  • 17 July: Tea Time Tales are launched in The Restaurant in which a member of the acting company reads a famed short story.
  • 31 July: The theatre is given a 'clean financial bill of health' by Scarborough Council.
  • 6 August: Lunchtime plays are launched at the SJT with a production of Alas, Poor Fred by James Saunders which premiered at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre in 1959.
  • 20 August: World premiere of Fool To Yourself by Robert Shearman. This is the first play commissioned under the auspices of The Sophie Winter Memorial Trust in memory of the actress who died in 1995 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round.
  • Summer: Elizabeth Brown is appointed Theatre Manager.
  • 3 October: First performance at the SJT by the Northern Sinfonia String Orchestra.
  • 8 October: Alan Ayckbourn revives Absent Friends with Tamzin Outhwaite playing Evie, her first major acting role.
  • 11 October: Platform talk with the author Sue Townsend.
  • 31 October: Late night plays are launched at the SJT with the world premiere of Nick Perry's Near Cricket St Thomas.
  • October: Things We Do For Love tours to the Palais dex Beaux Arts in Brussels.
  • 28 November: The Christmas show is Honk! by Anthony Drewe and George Stiles, directed by Julia McKenzie; there are rumoured issues with the direction of the play.
  • 29 November: Platform talk with the actress Julia McKenzie.
  • 11 December: Tenth anniversary revival of Stephen Mallatratt's The Woman In Black. This was produced in special arrangement with the West End production to mark the famed play's world premiere at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round in 1987.
  • December: Approximately 80,000 tickets are reported to have been sold for the SJT during its first full year of operation during 1997 with approximately 16,000 people seeing Alan Ayckbourn's new play Things We Do For Love.
  • December: Over the course of 1997, the Lirerary Department announces it has worked with 287 new playwrights.
  • Date TBC: James McKenzie appointed as Head Chef.
  • Date TBC: Zoe Naylor becomes Theatre Manager of the SJT.
Article by and copyright of Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce this article without permission of the copyright holder.