Stephen Joseph: Scarborough TimelineThis page contains a brief guide to key events during Stephen Joseph's 10 year tenure at Scarborough. An in-depth timeline for the period can be found in the History section of the website.
- 17 February: Stephen Joseph contacts William Smettem, director of Scarborough Public Library, about the possibility of hiring the Concert Room (formerly the Harrison Room) at the Library for a summer season of plays presented in-the-round.
- c.March: Stephen Joseph forms the Studio Theatre Ltd company.
- 11 July: The company arrives in Scarborough for final rehearsals for the summer season at what will be called Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre.
- 14 July: Studio Theatre Ltd opening night begins performances at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, with the world premiere of Eleanor D Glaser's Circle Of Love.
- 25 July: The Scarborough Evening News announces Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre will close in two weeks unless audience figures improve; the hottest summer for 50 years is blamed.
- 29 July: The Scarborough Evening News announces Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre is safe for another three weeks at least, thanks to improved audience figures.
- 16 August: In a letter to the Chief Librarian, Mervyn Edwards, Stephen Joseph asks to book the Concert Room for a second season for Studio Theatre Ltd from 9 July - 7 September 1956; Stephen having judged the first season had been successful enough to warrant continuing.
- 11 September: The Studio Theatre Club hosts its first weekly performance in London with a performance of Jurneman (Joan) Winch's Turn Right At The Crossroads. Performances take place at the Mahatma Gandhi Hall, which is in premises below the YMCA at 51 Fitzroy Street, London.
- 11 November: Mervyn Edwards is informed by Stephen Joseph that Studio Theatre Ltd made an acceptable loss on the season of £513 (not including theatre hire). In 1957, the total loss will be reported by the Leicester Mercury as £750.
- Early 1956: Stephen Joseph secures financial help from Scarborough Corporation, the Libraries Committee and the Arts Council of Great Britain for the summer season of at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre.
- 12 July: The second season at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre opens with Father Matthew by Aubrey Collins.
- 7 September: The season closes with David Campton's Idol In The Sky; it is reported in the Leicester Mercury in 1957 that the season lost £500.
- 9 September: The Sunday Club (Studio Theatre Club) season resumes at the Mahatma Gandhi Hall in London.
- Early 1957: Stephen Joseph informs the Arts Council that Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre will not be requiring a subsidy for the coming year
- 3 June: Stephen Joseph is quoted in the Scarborough Evening News: "Everyone seems to think that if we can survive in Scarborough, we can flourish anywhere else. This is not entirely flattering to Scarborough, but we clearly want to survive in Scarborough."
- June: Alan Ayckbourn joins Studio Theatre Ltd as an assistant stage manager and actor.
- Summer: A poll is taken at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre to ascertain support for a winter season in Scarborough; more than 600 people sign the letter.
- 23 August: Stephen Joseph announces this has been Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre's most successful season yet.
- Profits from the summer season are spent in constructing a set of rostra which will enable a complete and portable theatre-in-the-round for touring.
- 7 October: Scarborough Town Council grants permission for a winter season for Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre for four weeks from 9 December.
- 10 December: The first winter season at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre is launched with J.B. Priestley's I Have Been Here Before.
- Stephen Joseph decides to stop the playing of the National Anthem at every performance; he believes Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre is the first regional theatre in the UK to do this.
- David Campton becomes the first writer at Studio Theatre Ltd to be subsidised by the Arts Council of Great Britain, when he receives a grant of £500 to enable him to carry on writing.
- 17 February: Studio Theatre Ltd begins its first touring season with a production of Phèdre starring Margaret Rawlings. It will tour for two months including a visit to the Library Theatre from 17 March.
- 19 June: The summer season begins with Leo Lehman's Who Cares?
- 23 June: The first in a series of letters is published in the Scarborough Evening News condemning Stephen Joseph's decision to stop playing the National Anthem at every performance.
- September: Following the conclusion of the summer season on 13 September, the Studio Theatre Ltd embarks on an autumn tour to several venues.
- 15 December: The winter season is launched with Jean Jacques Bernard's Martine.
- December: Stephen Joseph commissions Alan Ayckbourn to write his first professional play after he complains about the quality of the role he is playing in David Campton's Ring Of Roses.
- December: Harold Pinter rehearses The Birthday Party at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre with the Studio Theatre Ltd company. This will be only the second production of the play and will mark the professional directorial debut of the author.
- 5 January: Studio Theatre Limited launches its first winter touring season, predominantly to towns lacking a theatre, in the hope of finding a permanent home for the company. Harold Pinter's self-directed production of The Birthday Party is part of the repertory which visits Birmingham, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Leicester. It ends on 2 March 1959.
- 30 January: Despite apparent pressure to restore the National Anthem as a legal requirement, the Lord Chamberlain's Office comments that: "There is no regulation on this. We are completely indifferent to it, and would never contemplate issuing any order or advice."
- 16 June: A civic night for invited guests is held at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre to see John van Druten's Bell, Book & Candle prior to the season's advertised official opening on 17 June.
- Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre announces a poll will be held for patrons to express support for the National Anthem. The lack of response means that the result of the poll is neither announced nor the anthem restored.
- 30 July: World premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's first professional play, The Square Cat.
- 14 December: The winter season opens with a double bill of Colin Wilson's Viennese Interlude and August Strindberg's Miss Julie. Colin Wilson had achieved fame in 1956 with his book The Outsider and this was his only produced play.
- 4 January: The winter tour begins visiting Newcastle-under-Lyme, Hemel Hempstead, London, Southampton and Totnes. It ends on 26 March and includes Alan Ayckbourn's first two plays The Square Cat and Love After All.
- 15 June: The summer season opens with a revival of Ruth Dixon's 'Prentice Pillar, which received its world premiere during Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre's inaugural season.
- 14 September: The first British In-The-Round Festival is held at The Library Theatre; this festival for amateur companies is adjudicated by Stephen Joseph and attracts companies from around the UK.
- Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre receives £6,000 (£2,000 a year for three years) from the Carlouste Gulbenkian Foundation to expand its touring programme to theatreless towns in the UK.
- November: An inquiry into building a civic theatre in Scarborough is launched; the stated aim is for a venue primarily in-the-round but also adaptable to end-stage performance. A report presented to the town council on 15 November suggests there would be financial support available for such a development.
- 12 December: The winter season opens with Peter Shaffer's Five Finger Exercise.
- 2 January: At a Scarborough town council meeting, the funding of an adaptable theatre (priced at £50,000) is discussed and declined with the majority of the council voting against funding the venture.
- 2 January: The winter tour begins visiting Newcastle-under-Lyme, Hemel Hempstead, Southampton, Ealing, Totnes and Hull Arts Festival. It ends in late April.
- February: Newcastle-under-Lyme town council approves funding for £99,000 for a purpose-built theatre-in-the-round in the town. Stephen Joseph confirms Studio Theatre Ltd will leave Scarborough if the venue is built; the purpose-built venue never comes to fruition.
- 12 June: The summer season opens with Laurence Hausman's Victoria Regina; apparently one of Stephen Joseph's favourite plays.
- 14 September: The Stage announces Peter Cheeseman is to leave Derby Playhouse to become Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre's new manager.
- 2 November: Studio Theatre Ltd performs at Wellingborough Trade Union Festival
- 11 December: The winter season opens with an adaptation of David Copperfield by Joan Macalpine, who had previously staged-managed at the theatre.
- 1 January: A short tour to Newcastle-under-Lyme and Hemel Hempsted marks the end of touring by the Scarborough company until 1974.
- 12 June: The summer season opens with Joan Macalpine's A Thief In Time.
- 9 October: Stephen Joseph opens the first permanent professional theatre-in-the-round venue in the UK at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent (a conversion of a former cinema). Studio Theatre Ltd transfers to the Victoria Theatre - along with the majority of its funding (which will be slashed in half soon after the move).
- December: The move of Studio Theatre Ltd to Newcastle in the autumn - and the lack of funding in Scarborough - means there is no winter season at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre for the first time since 1957; winter seasons will not resume until 1974.
- Early 1963: Stephen Joseph founds Theatre In The Round Ltd, a new company to which Studio Theatre Ltd will later cede control of Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre, Scarborough to (see below). It is run by Stephen Joseph and David Campton.
- Early 1963: Having transferred to Stoke-on-Trent to run the Victoria Theatre, Studio Theatre Ltd has its annual grant halved by the Arts Council. Faced with the prospect of closing the Victoria and Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre or running the Victoria on a reduced budget, the directors choose the latter and withdraw all funding and support for Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre, Scarborough. This ends Studio Theatre Ltd's association with the venue. Stephen Joseph is given permission to run Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre through Theatre In The Round Ltd, which runs Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre for the 1963 and 1964 summer seasons.
- Early 1963: Stephen Joseph issues an ultimatum to the Library Committee to improve its facilities or Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre will either move on or close.
- June: Scarborough Library Director Mervyn Edwards reports that as a result of Studio Theatre Ltd moving to Newcastle-under-Lyme, a smaller company will perform for just the summer season in Scarborough "operating on a shoestring budget and entirely without a grant."
- June: It is reported that neither Artistic Director Stephen Joseph nor Theatre Manager David Campton will draw pay for the season in a bid to make Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre viable.
- 11 June: The summer season opens with Noël Coward's Fallen Angels.
- December: Lacking funds due to the formation of the new company and with no support from the Arts Council, the winter season at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre is cancelled.
- 4 June: The summer season opens with a double bill of Peter Shaffer's The Private Ear and The Public Eye.
- 18 July: It is resolved Scarborough Theatre Trust be incorporated as a company based at Stephen Joseph's Scarborough home with Maurice Plows as secretary. The board consists of Ken Boden, Alfred Bradley, David Campton, Stephen Joseph and Maurice Plows.
- 11 August: Scarborough Theatre Trust is incorporated as a company and will be responsible for the running of the Scarborough company from 1965 to the present day at its various venues.
- Scarborough Town Council agrees to guarantee the theatre's summer season against loss; it is not clear if this had been in place prior to the formation of Scarborough Theatre Trust. Although a positive benefit to the company at the time, the guarantee would in later years lead to issues in clearing the company's overdraft.
- September: It is reported the 1964 summer season has been the most successful yet for Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre.
- 15 September: The Scarborough Theatre Trust board resolves that a professional company for the 1965 season be created in conjunction with the Drama Department of the University Of Manchester; where Stephen Joseph also works as a lecturer.
- Frustrated by the lack of response from the Library Committee regarding his requests for help to improve Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre, Stephen Joseph tells the Scarborough Theatre Trust board he sees no long-term future for Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre.
- 16 December: Stephen Joseph appointed Chairman of Scarborough Theatre Trust.
- Due to lack of funding, a curtailed summer season is announced opening later than originally planned.
- July: Most of the staff for the summer season are students drawn from the University of Manchester.
- 5 July: The summer season opens with Clemence Dane's Granite.
- 8 July: World premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's Meet My Father; retitled as Relatively Speaking in 1967, it will launch Alan Ayckbourn to fame with a hit West End production.
- 9 July: At the first Annual General Meeting of Scarborough Theatre Trust, it is suggested the company will not perform again following the end of the 1965 summer season.
- 10 July: Stephen Joseph writes to the Library's Director Mervyn Edwards noting the likelihood Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre will close at the end of the 1965 season.
- 27 August: Stephen Joseph publicly announces in the Scarborough Evening News that Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, will close at the end of the 1965 summer season.
- 18 September: The final performance of the season at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre takes place; potentially the final professional production at the venue.
- 30 September: The Stage reports this has been Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre's most successful season with attendances rarely falling below 94% of capacity.
- November: A document - Reasons For Closing The Library Theatre - is published by Scarborough Theatre Trust detailing why Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre has closed and why the company must find a new home, probably outside Scarborough.
- 17 December: A decision is made that Scarborough Theatre Trust will only continue with the intention of finding a new home for the company; it is confirmed there will be no professional performances at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre in 1966.
- Following a significant dispute over the direction of the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, the venue passes into the hands of a local trust from Studio Theatre Ltd (which begins to be wound down).
- Ken Boden organises an amateur in-the-round season at The Library Theatre under the banner of the Scarborough Theatre Guild; whilst working on plans to restore professional theatre in 1967.
- May: Stephen Joseph is diagnosed with cancer. Despite an operation several weeks later, it is diagnosed as terminal and Stephen is largely bed-bound for the next 18 months.
- 7 July: An amateur season opens at The Library Theatre and runs until 27 August.
- Scarborough Town Council approves a grant for a professional season in 1967 of Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre as well as offering to cover any losses.
- 12 October: Stephen Joseph steps down as Chairman of Scarborough Theatre Trust at a board meeting and - with a settlement of its outstanding debts of £50 - the trust is essentially re-launched. The meeting closes….
- 12 October: Following the board meeting, Scarborough Theatre Trust holds its Annual General Meeting in which Dr N. Walsh is appointed Chairman of Scarborough Theatre Trust and the company is, to all intent and purposes, re-launched. Ken Boden is appointed secretary and Rodney Wood is appointed Director of Productions for the 1967 professional season. The company is relaunched with a working balance of £58 and 12 shillings.
- With funding restored by Scarborough Town Council, professional theatre resumes at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre with a 14 week summer season; the longest summer season yet held at the venue.
- Appointed by the board of Scarborough Theatre Trust, Rodney Wood is named Director of Productions for the season; Rodney had previously worked with Stephen Joseph. The position is unpaid but includes accommodation for the summer.
- 10 July: The summer season opens with the world premiere of Alan Plater's Hop, Step And Jump.
- 28 July: Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire Theatre Trust Ltd is incorporated as a company to run the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent. This essentially marks the end of Stephen Joseph's pioneering Studio Theatre Ltd company.
- 31 August: The Stage reports it has been a record year for audiences at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre with capacity running at more than 80% throughout the season.
- 18 September: Scarborough Theatre Trust is registered as a charitable trust.
- 5 October: Stephen Joseph dies at Longwestgate, Scarborough, aged 46.
Timeline research, written and copyright of Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.