The Stephen Joseph Theatre is a cultural icon of the Yorkshire region, providing accessible, high quality theatre for audiences worldwide since 1955. Over 100,000 people visit the SJT each year and many more experience its work on tour in the UK and abroad.
The SJT is widely known for its world premieres of almost all of Alan Ayckbourn’s 75+ plays, its commitment to new writing and its regular ensemble of actors. It is home to excellent drama, music, poetry, films, comedy and events, as well as the musical adaptations of Artistic Director Chris Monks.
The Stephen Joseph Theatre was founded in Scarborough by theatrical pioneer Stephen Joseph. In 1955 he established the country’s first theatre-in-the-round company on the first floor of the Public Library in Scarborough. His primary aim was to encourage new writing by new writers, which he was passionate about until his death in 1967. Alan Ayckbourn, Stephen’s protege, was appointed Artistic Director in 1972 and would remain in that post until 2009 having encouraged Stephen’s legacy of new writing with the world premiere of 239 plays by 87 writers during his tenure. Alan has also premiered the majority of his plays at the theatre, more than half of which have gone on to the West End or the National Theatre. He was awarded a CBE in 1987 and in 1997 was knighted for services to the theatre.
The theatre continued to flourish and in 1976 moved to a supposedly temporary home on the ground floor of the former Scarborough Boys’ High School. However, a permanent home proved difficult to find and it wasn’t until 1988 and the closure of the local Odeon cinema that a suitable venue was found. The new theatre, known simply as the Stephen Joseph Theatre, opened on 30th April 1996 and has two auditoria: The Round, a 404-seat in the round and The McCarthy, a 165-seat endstage/cinema. The Round boasts two important technical innovations: the stage lift, facilitating speedy set changes and the trampoline which allows technicians particularly easy access to the lighting grid. The building also contains a restaurant, shop, and full front-of-house and backstage facilities.