Stephen Joseph & The Library Theatre: Timeline & Key Events

The timeline offers an at-a-glance guide to significant events at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, from its opening in 1955 to the company's move to its second home, the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round in 1976.

Click on a highlighted year or a link in the right hand column to read more in-depth details about the year's events.

Stephen Joseph & The Library Theatre: Concise Timeline

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1954 (the precise dates of these events are disputed and may have taken place in 1955)
Stephen Joseph, looking for a suitable venue for theatre-in-the-round, visits Scarborough for the first time. He meets the Chief Librarian William Smettem and also meets Ken Boden, who will play a pivotal role in the theatre during the next 30 years.

Stephen Joseph forms the
Studio Theatre Ltd company; Studio Theatre Ltd begins performances in the Concert Room at Scarborough Library (advertised as the Library Theatre) on 14 July with the world premiere of Eleanor D Glaser's Circle Of Love; a prompt is used initially during performances but quickly removed and never restored; the Library Theatre's first season loses approximately £500 but a second season is confirmed; the Studio Theatre Club is formed, showcasing theatre-in-the-round in London.

With financial backing from Scarborough Corporation, the Libraries Committee and the Arts Council of Great Britain, the Library Theatre benefits from better seating, lighting and advertising.

Alan Ayckbourn joins Studio Theatre Ltd as an assistant stage manager and actor; the first winter season at the Library Theatre is launched.

The Library Theatre becomes the UK's first regional theatre to stop playing the
National Anthem during every performance - to much controversy; Stephen Joseph commissions Alan Ayckbourn to write his first professional play; Studio Theatre Ltd begins touring for the first time; the Studio Theatre Club in London is abandoned.

The Studio Theatre Ltd winter tour sees the professional directorial debut of
Harold Pinter with his play The Birthday Party; world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's first professional play, The Square Cat.

The first
British Festival Of The Round is held at the Library Theatre; the Library Theatre receives £6,000 over three years to expand its touring programme.

The Library Theatre's first repertory company is formed when the same company performs both the summer and winter seasons at the venue for the first time; Scarborough Town Council declines a proposal to build a permanent home for the company; Newcastle-under-Lyme council approves funding for a purpose-built theatre-in-the-round - the theatre is never built.

Stephen Joseph opens the first permanent professional theatre-in-the-round venue in the UK at the
Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent (a conversion of a disused cinema rather than a purpose-built venue); Studio Theatre Ltd transfers to the Victoria Theatre - along with its funding (which had been slashed in half prior to the move); due to Studio Theatre Ltd moving to Stoke-on-Trent and the loss of funding, the Library Theatre ceases both its tours and winter seasons, neither of which will resume until 1974.

With Studio Theatre Ltd having transferred to Stoke-on-Trent, the 1963 and 1964 Scarborough summer seasons are produced by a new company
Theatre In The Round Ltd formed by Stephen Joseph to allow continued professional production of plays at the Library Theatre, Scarborough; Stephen - still actively involved with the Library Theatre although much of the management has been passed to David Campton - issues an ultimatum to the Library Committee to improve its facilities or the Library Theatre will close.

Scarborough Theatre Trust is incorporated as a company in July and from 1965 to the present is responsible for running the theatre; the Library Committee's lack of response to his 1963 ultimatum sees Stephen Joseph tell the Scarborough Theatre Trust board there is no long-term future for the Library Theatre.

Due to lack of funding, the professional summer season is presented in conjunction with the Drama Department of the University Of Manchester with students joining the company in both acting and technical positions; Stephen Joseph announces the Library Theatre will permanently
close at the end of the summer season; world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's Meet My Father (Relatively Speaking) at the Library Theatre; the Library Theatre is closed on 18 September following what is reported as its most successful season.

Stephen Joseph is diagnosed with terminal cancer; Ken Boden organises an
amateur in-the-round season at the Library Theatre with the intent of relaunching professional theatre in 1967; Scarborough Town Council approves funding for a professional season at the Library Theatre during 1967; Stephen Joseph steps down as Chairman of Scarborough Theatre Trust; following a prolonged dispute, control of the Victoria Theatre is taken away from Stephen Joseph and put into the hands of a newly incorporated local trust, the Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire Theatre Trust.

The Library Theatre
re-opens with a 14 week professional summer season under Director of Productions, Rodney Wood; Stephen Joseph dies on Thursday 5 October at Longwestgate, Scarborough, aged 46; Relatively Speaking becomes the first Library Theatre play to open in the West End; Scarborough Theatre Trust is registered as a charity in September; Studio Theatre Ltd ceases operations; Tom Laughton joins the Scarborough Theatre Trust board; the board agrees any new home for the company should be named after its founder.
All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd and all original material copyright of Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce this material without permission of the copyright holder.