Stephen Joseph Theatre Significant Dates: November

A month-by-month guide to significant events and dates at the Stephen Joseph Theatre from 1955 to the present day.

2 November:
BBC Radio 4 broadcast the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round's production of Brian Thompson's The Conservatory on 2 November 1981. The play had been produced as part of the company's summer season earlier in the year and Alan Ayckbourn re-directed the company for the radio with one of his great influences, Alfred Bradley, producing.

3 November: The 75th anniversary of Scarborough's Odeon cinema - now the home of the Stephen Joseph Theatre - was celebrated by the venue's first Deco Days event in 2011; a weekend celebrating the period when the cinema opened in 1936.

4 November: A plaque was unveiled by Scarborough Theatre Trust chairman Tom Laughton at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round commemorating the company's founder Stephen Joseph in 1980. The plaque was later moved to the upper foyer at the company’s third home, the Stephen Joseph Theatre.

5 November: One of the key plays premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre during the 1990s was Ben Brown's critically acclaimed Larkin With Women. Ben had had previous success at the SJT in 1997 with the world premiere of his first play All Things Considered, but Larkin With Women - which had its first performance on 5 November before officially opening on 11 November 1999 in The Round - would garner even more plaudits and win the Best New Play at the 2000 Barclay Theatre Awards. The play about the lives and loves of the poet Philip Larkin featured an extraordinary central performance by Oliver Ford Davies as Larkin; a role he would go on to reprise at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, in 2006.

6 November: The company's first production of an Oscar Wilde play saw The Importance Of Being Earnest produced in 1980, directed by Robin Herford, at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round. The same play was actually considered for production 15 years earlier in 1965 at the Library Theatre, but did not go ahead.

7 November: The only play by Tom Stoppard to be performed by the company during its 60 year history opened on 7 November 1978. The production was Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.

11 November: A mere 26 years after opening, the company presented its first production of a Shakespeare play in 1981 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round. Robin Herford directed a production of Twelfth Night which ran for 18 days. The theatre has only produced three Shakespeare plays during its 60 year history: Twelfth Night (1981), Othello (1990) and Romeo & Juliet (1994) - although in recent years visiting companies such as the Northern Broadsides and Shakespeare At The Tobacco Factory have brought plays by the Bard to the venue.

12 November: On 12 November 1972, the board of the Library Theatre appointed the company's second Artistic Director. The position was given to Alan Ayckbourn who had been the Director of Productions for three of the previous four seasons. The role was made permanent in 1972, five years after Stephen Joseph had died. Alan Ayckbourn remained Artistic Director of the company until his retirement in 2009.

13 November: BBC Radio 2's Around Midnight was broadcast live from the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round in 1986 with guests including Alan Ayckbourn and Robin Herford.

14 November: The world premiere of Ben Brown's acclaimed debut play All Things Considered opened at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the McCarthy (the end-stage space) in 1996. The play was a success with both critics and audiences and Ben would later go on to write the award-winning Larkin With Women, which also premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in 1999.

15 November: The first new play to be staged at the company's second home - the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round - was The Guv'nor by Christopher Godwin, who also starred in this one-man play about the theatre manager Henry Irving. Such was the popularity of the play in 1976, it was revived from 14 - 19 February the following year as well as being shown as a replacement for Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf later in 1977 (see 11 October).

16 November: In 2011, the BBC dedicated an episode of its flagship cultural series Imagine to Alan Ayckbourn. The programme, presented by Alan Yentob, delved into the playwright's life and career as well as his association with the Stephen Joseph Theatre. It also showed clips from his latest play Neighbourhood Watch - including a rather major spoiler from the climax of the play!

18 November: One of the most regular and popular companies to visit the Stephen Joseph Theatre is the Northern Broadsides. Their first visit to the SJT was on 18 November 1996 with productions of Anthony & Cleopatra and Romeo & Juliet. Between then and 2016, the Northern Broadsides has presented 45 productions at the SJT.

19 November: Scarborough Theatre Trust approved a motion to name its new home after its founder, Stephen Joseph, in 1967; a month after Stephen's death. At the time, it was hoped the company would imminently find a new home better suited to than Scarborough Library. However, the company would not move to its new home at the former Westwood County Modern School until 1976 and it would be 1978 before the theatre would be named the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round.

20 November: Stephen Wood was announced as General Administrator (later Chief Executive) of the company in 1995 tying in with the company's imminent move to its new home at the Stephen Joseph Theatre the following year. Stephen had previously been the press officer at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round between 1976 and 1982 and would remain with the Stephen Joseph Theatre until retiring in 2015.

22 November: During the company's final years at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, the winter seasons did not take place in the usual space in the venue's Concert Room. During the 1974 and 1975 winter seasons, this room was not available and the company had to perform in the venue's smaller space, the Lecture Room. Productions in this space could not be produced in-the-round and were, instead, presented three-sided (or thrust). This began with the first production in the Lecture Room with On Approval by Frederick Lonsdale as well as the world premieres of Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce and Just Between Ourselves; just to confuse issues, Just Between Ourselves was revived for the summer of 1976 in the Concert Room but Alan chose to keep it three-sided rather than re-direct it in-the-round.

23 November: One of Alan Ayckbourn's most popular and celebrated family plays opened on 23 November 1989 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough. Invisible Friends starred Emma Chambers as the young girl Lucy, whose invisible friend takes on a life of her own. The play later opened at the National Theatre in 1991, directed by Alan Ayckbourn with Emma Chambers reviving her role alongside Claire Skinner as Zara, the invisible friend.

24 November: In 1974, Alan Ayckbourn threatened to quit Scarborough after plans to expand the season at the Library Theatre were turned down by North Yorkshire County Council Libraries Committee following an apparent conflict of interests with a councillor supporting plans for an opposing theatre project in the town. As a result of the decision, Alan Ayckbourn gave a lengthy statement to the Scarborough Evening News indicating that if the decision was not reversed it would "mean, regretfully, my own departure from the town." The issue was eventually settled and the extension granted but only for a year whilst a new home was found for the company.

25 November: The oldest playwright to have a work performed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre was Charles Thomas, who had the world premiere of his play Prince On A White Bike premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round in 1992 aged 84.

26 November: The Library Theatre's first community tour was launched on this day in 1975 with the revue What The Devil!, predominantly written by Bob Eaton and Polly Warren. The revue with a supernatural theme toured pubs around the Scarborough area and was so successful it was programmed into the winter season at the theatre in an expanded form including a comedy sketch, Dracula, by Alan Ayckbourn.

28 November: BBC Radio 4 broadcast the documentary Surrounded! in 2005 looking at theatre-in-the-round venues in the UK including the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.

29 November: The world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's family play The Champion Of Paribanou took place at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in 29 November 1996. This play - described by one critic as a cross between Star Wars and the Arabian Nights - was the first completely new Ayckbourn play to be staged in the company's new home after its move to the former Odeon cinema in April of that year.

30 November: In 1988, Alan Ayckbourn premiered what is now considered his first family play at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough. Mr A's Amazing Maze Plays is a play about Suzy and her dog Neville who has his bark stolen with the second act of the play seeing Suzy searching for his bark guided by the audience. The success of the play - which was revived at the SJT in 1993 and 2006 - led Alan to write a number of other family plays, which are considered an important part of the Ayckbourn play canon.

Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. All views expressed on this page are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Stephen Joseph Theatre.