Advocates: Peter Cheesman

Peter Cheeseman (1932 - 2010) first met Stephen Joseph at a regional theatre conference. It was a meeting which would have a profound effect on Peter. In the winter of 1961, Peter joined Studio Theatre Ltd as the General Manager of the Library Theatre, Scarborough. He stayed for the summer of 1962 and joined the company's move to the UK's first professional purpose built theatre-in-the-round space at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent.
Peter was appointed Artistic Director of the venue and remained in that position until 1998.
During the early years of the theatre's existence, there was a notable disagreement with the direction Stephen Joseph believed the Victoria Theatre should take and Peter's firm belief theatre should play an essential part of the local community. This would eventually result in Stephen losing control of the theatre, which would go on to thrive under Peter - who became synonymous with documentary plays such as The Jolly Potters and The Knotty, which brought the lives and history of the local community into the theatre.
Despite the bitter fight over the Victoria, Peter Cheeseman always maintained a great respect for Stephen Joseph throughout his life and this page contains some of the quotes Peter gave about Stephen over the years.

"What an impressive man Stephen was. Physically he was a giant. Intellectually and imaginatively he was exceptional, the nearest thing to a genius - except from William Empson at Sheffield University and, of course, Alan Ayckbourn - that I've ever encountered…. He was a great maniac for theatre in the round and a radical thinker…. Stephen said that we must have theatre that really celebrates its liveness, the fact that we are there with it - so that the sensation of being live is maximised."
(The Stage, 4 April 2002)

"I was offered a job by Stephen Joseph, the great protagonist of the theatre in the round. His vision of the spatial relationship between the actor and the audience and his way of radically appraising the importance of its components fascinated me. I had never met anybody who had such a clear, radical vision of the essential importance of the physical structure of theatre. This vision affected me and Alan Ayckbourn for the rest of our working lives. We both realised that the potency of this medium was limitless."
(On Directing: Interviews With Directors by Gabriella Giannachi and Mary Luckhurst, 1999)

"Everyone else thought he [Stephen Joseph] was mad and lots of people thought it would lose the magic of theatre if you could get so close that you could see their hairy legs and pimples!"
(Sunday Sentinel, 8 February 2004)

All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd.