Alan Ayckbourn & Theatre in the Round: A TimelineThis page offers a concise history of Alan Ayckbourn's relationship with Theatre in the Round in Scarborough. An in-depth chronology of the theatre itself between 1955 and 2009 can be found in the History section of the website.
(© Haydonning Ltd)
- 1955: Stephen Joseph founds Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre in Scarborough, home to the Studio Theatre Ltd company - the first professional theatre-in-the-round company in the UK.
- 1957: Alan Ayckbourn joins Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre as an Acting Stage Manager (a stage manager with limited acting roles) for the summer season. He meets and becomes life-ling friends with Stephen Joseph, his most influential mentor.
- 1958: Alan Ayckbourn returns to Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre as a stage manager and actor. With the start of the winter season, he will become primarily an actor with the company.
- 1959: Stephen Joseph commissions Alan Ayckbourn to write his first play, The Square Cat, which premieres at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre on 30 July 1959. It is followed by a second play, Love After All, which opens on 21 December 1959. Subsequent to this, practically all of Alan Ayckbourn's plays will premiere with this company.
- 1961: Alan Ayckbourn directs his first professional production with Patrick Hamilton's Gaslight at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre.
- 1962: Studio Theatre Ltd moves to the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, and Alan Ayckbourn moves with the company as resident writer, director and actor.
- 1964: Alan Ayckbourn leaves the Victoria Theatre with the West End transfer of his play Mr Whatnot; this is a flop and Alan joins the BBC in Leeds from 1965 to 1970.
- 1965: Alan Ayckbourn writes Meet My Father for Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre; it is retitled Relatively Speaking for its 1967 West End transfer. Stephen Joseph closes Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre, Scarborough.
- 1967: Alan Ayckbourn writes The Sparrow for the relaunched Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre. Stephen Joseph dies on 5 October.
- 1969: Alan Ayckbourn is appointed Director of Productions at Theatre in the Round at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre for the summer season; Alan is still working at the BBC throughout this period.
- 1970: Alan Ayckbourn is appointed Director of Productions at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre for the summer season.
- 1972: Alan Ayckbourn is appointed Artistic Director of Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre.
- 1973: Alan Ayckbourn writes The Norman Conquests trilogy for Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre.
- 1974: The winter season is relaunched at Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre (having ended in 1961) as well as a touring programme (having ended in 1962). Alan Ayckbourn threatens to leave Scarborough after the council refuses to extend the 1975 season to 40 weeks.
- 1975: The theatre season is extended but the company is told it must leave the library by 1976.
- 1976: The company moves to Theatre In The Round at Westwood (on the site of a former school) which opens on 26 October.
- 1978: Theatre In The Round at Westwood is renamed the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round.
- 1981: Alan Ayckbourn premieres his play Way Upstream at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round which involves flooding the stage space for its canal setting.
- 1982: Alan Ayckbourn premieres Intimate Exchanges, a play for two actors with 10 characters and 16 possible permutations. All the variations of the play are introduced over the course of the year.
- 1986: Alan Ayckbourn takes a two year sabbatical from the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round to become a Company Director at the National Theatre; he remains Artistic Director with Robin Herford appointed as co-Artistic Director to manage the company on a day-to-day basis.
- 1988: Alan Ayckbourn returns to the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round.
- 1989: Alan Ayckbourn meets Alain Resnais at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, who has apparently been visiting the venue for years and is a great fan of Ayckbourn's work.
- 1990: Alan Ayckbourn announces plans to convert Scarborough's former Odeon cinema into a purpose built home for the company,
- 1993: Fund-raising is officially launched for the conversion of the Odeon to a theatre.
- 1995: The National Lottery announces a £1.5m grant to funding appeal. Alan directs his final premiere at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round with A Word From Our Sponsor.
- 1996: The company moves to the Stephen Joseph Theatre which opens on 24 April with Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical By Jeeves.
- 1997: The 'Luvvies Vs Lavvies' funding crisis makes national headlines.
- 1998: Alan Ayckbourn launches the company's most ambitious summer season 10x10, 10 world or British premieres performed by 10 actors.
- 1999: Alan Ayckbourn premieres House & Garden, two plays which are performed simultaneously with a single cast in the Stephen Joseph Theatre's two auditorium. Alan Ayckbourn announces he will be concentrating on predominantly directing his own work.
- 2002: Alan Ayckbourn directs Tim Firth's The Safari Party, the final play at the Stephen Joseph Theatre he will direct that is not his own work.
- 2005: The company tours to New York for the first time taking Alan Ayckbourn's Private Fears In Public Places to the Brits Off Broadway festival to a rapturous response.
- 2006: Alan Ayckbourn suffers a stroke on 21 February but returns to direct six months later.
- 2007: Scarborough Theatre Trust announces Alan Ayckbourn will retire as Artistic Director on 31 March 2009 and the search for his successor has begun.
- 2009: Alan Ayckbourn steps down as Artistic Director on 31 March.
- 2009 - present: Alan Ayckbourn guest directs at the Stephen Joseph Theatre generally premiering and directing a new play a year at the venue alongside a revival of an earlier play.
- 2018: Alan Ayckbourn is appointed the first Director Emeritus of the Stephen Joseph Theatre.
- 2020: Alan Ayckbourn and the SJT present his first play to be premiered online with Anno Domino; produced during the Covid-19 theatre lockdown.
- 2021: The SJT films The Girl Next Door for streaming; this marks the first time an Ayckbourn-directed world premiere production of his work, produced in-the-round, has been filmed.
All research for this page is by Simon Murgatroyd. Copyright of Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce this page without the permission of the copyright holder.