New Writing: The 2010s

As part of the Stephen Joseph Theatre's 60th anniversary celebrations in 2015, the Scarborough In The Round blog ran a series of articles looking at the history of new writing at the theatre decade-by-decade.
Click on the decade links above to read the articles specific to each decade.

Stephen Joseph's Legacy: New Writing - The 2010s

On 14 July 2015, the Stephen Joseph Theatre marked the 60th anniversary of its opening as the Library Theatre in Scarborough.
The celebration came at a period of great transition for the theatre with a new Chief Executive, Mathew Russell, in place and the announcement of the departure of its Artistic Director Chris Monks in December. Change - possibly on every level of the theatre - was undoubtedly coming.
Given these articles have been exploring the new writing legacy at the SJT since it opening and how it has shaped and defined the company over the decades. Writing about this decade is problematic given it is far from complete and that it all falls under the tenure of its outgoing Artistic Director - whose contribution to the theatre will, in a relatively short period, be able to assessed in its entirety.
However, as of writing we are not at the point to objectively assess his impact on the company and the long-term impact of the new writing choices made during this term and can only briefly consider what new writing did take place.
New writing still found a place at the SJT between 2010 and 2015, despite the challenges of producing new work and an occasional uncertainty about whether there was still an ongoing commitment to it. Although at times it has seemed limited compared to the past, there have been some new voices emerging notably Andrew Pollard (whose collaborations with director Adam Sunderland reinvigorated the theatre's Christmas children's programme), Fiona Evans and Roger Osborne.
Artistic Director Chris Monks unveiled several new adaptations of existing works and John Godber returned to the theatre with new work such as
Muddy Cows and the Lost & Found duology, written with his wife Jane Thornton. Alan Ayckbourn has been the most prevalent new writer of the decade so far, with output including his plays Neighbourhood Watch and Arrivals & Departures, both of which enjoyed considerable success with New York transfers from the SJT.
In 2013, the Literary Department was briefly re-established after an eight-year break break with two works emerging from the department in 2014, the multi-author
ScreenPlay and Claudine Toutoungi's Slipping. Sadly, it is uncertain what the future for the department holds as no work has been commissioned during 2015 and there have been no announcement on future plans for the department.
Indeed as the theatre celebrated its 60th anniversary, it was perhaps disconcerting to note only one new play,
Hero's Welcome by Alan Ayckbourn, was produced. Hopefully for a theatre founded on new writing, the future will be more indicative of its extraordinary success in promoting new work than its 60th anniversary year.

A personal selection of 60 significant new plays at the Stephen Joseph Theatre between 1955 and 2015 can be found via the link below.

Click here to go New Writing: 60 Plays For 60 Years

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

All opinions and views expressed within this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Stephen Joseph Theatre or Alan Ayckbourn.

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