The Library Theatre: 1955

This page contains a more detailed guide to significant events concerning the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in 1955. The article The First Year also explores the significance of 1955 in the company's history.

1955

  • 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.
  • Stephen Joseph forms the Studio Theatre Ltd company.
  • William Smettem agrees to let the Studio Theatre Ltd company use the Concert Room for £10 a week rent.
  • Stephen Joseph meets Ken Boden, a leading figure in Scarborough's amateur community, who commits himself to helping the the new theatre project. He will play a pivotal role in the company for the next 30 years.
  • 11 July: The company arrives in Scarborough for final rehearsals for the summer season at what will be called the Library Theatre.
  • The company wages are recorded as £10 per actor per week (the Equity minimum was £7 but Stephen Joseph reasoned most of the company had residences in London to also pay for).
  • 14 July: Studio Theatre Ltd opening night begins performances at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, with the world premiere of Eleanor D Glaser's Circle Of Love.
  • July: During the early part of the season, a prompt is used for the only time in the theatre's history. The prompt is placed in the front row but it is quickly dispensed with due it to "killing some of the magic."
  • The theatre offers a Wednesday matinee throughout the summer season, it is reported in 1964 that this ongoing tradition is unique among Scarborough theatres with no other venues offering matinee performances.
  • 25 July: The Scarborough Evening News announces the Library Theatre will close in two weeks unless audience figures improve; the hottest summer for 50 years is blamed.
  • 28 July: World premiere of David Campton's Dragons Are Dangerous; David Campton will become the Library Theatre's first resident writer and the first writer at the Library Theatre to achieve long-term success as a playwright.
  • 29 July: The Scarborough Evening News announces the Library Theatre is safe for another three weeks at least, thanks to improved audience figures.
  • 2 August: First ever full-house at the Library Theatre. This coincides with the heat-wave breaking and the first major rainfall of the summer on the same day.
  • 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.
  • 9 September: The season closes with Jurneman (Joan) Winch's Turn Right At The Crossroads; the brochure for the season incorrectly states the final performance will be 10 September.
  • Remarkably, the first season at the Library Theatre consists entirely of four new plays, three of which are written by women. In comparison, the Royal Court - often cited as the UK's first major writers' theatre - did not open until 1956 and could not boast of such a forward looking gender-blind writer's policy for many years.
  • 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.
Click here to go to 1956.

Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd: Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.