Alan Ayckbourn & The Stephen Joseph Theatre: A Timeline

This page offers a concise history of Alan Ayckbourn's working relationship with the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. An in-depth chronology of the theatre itself between 1955 and 2009 can be found in the History section of the website.
  • 1955: Stephen Joseph founds 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 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 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 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 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.
  • 1965: Alan Ayckbourn writes Meet My Father for the Library Theatre; it is retitled Relatively Speaking for its 1967 West End transfer. Stephen Joseph closes the Library Theatre, Scarborough.
  • 1967: Alan Ayckbourn writes The Sparrow for the relaunched Library Theatre. Stephen Joseph dies on 5 October.
  • 1969: Alan Ayckbourn is appointed Director of Productions at the Library Theatre for the summer season.
  • 1970: Alan Ayckbourn is appointed Director of Productions at the Library Theatre for the summer season.
  • 1972: Alan Ayckbourn is appointed Artistic Director of the Library Theatre.
  • 1973: Alan Ayckbourn writes The Norman Conquests trilogy for the Library Theatre.
  • 1974: The winter season is relaunched 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 premiers 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 return 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 ore 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 announcers 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 on 31 March 2009 and the search for his successor has begun.
  • 2009: Alan Ayckbourn steps down as Artistic Director on 31 March with Chris Monks taking over the role on 1 April.
  • 2009 - present: Alan Ayckbourn guests directs at the Stephen Joseph Theatre generally premiering and directing a play a year at the venue alongside directing a revival of his work.
  • 2018: Alan Ayckbourn is appointed the first Director Emeritus of the Stephen Joseph Theatre.
All research for this page is by Simon Murgatroyd. Copyright: Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce this page without the permission of the copyright holder.