Stephen Joseph Theatre

Sixty years of theatre ‘in the round’

Alan Ayckbourn
WGGB member Alan Ayckbourn

Alan Ayckbourn’s 79th play, Hero’s Welcome, will have its world premiere at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in September 2015, and forms part of the year-long celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the theatre this month.

The play is set in the north of England and follows a soldier returning to the home town he departed 17 years ago when he left his fiancée at the altar.

The author has said of the play: “Hero’s Welcome is about the prodigal son, Murray, coming back to his home town. He’s one of my anti-heroes really, a squaddie who has got all the good qualities that I like; he trusts people and he’s honest with people.”

Alan Ayckbourn is a WGGB member, and Olivier and Tony Award-winning playwright, whose plays have been produced in London’s West End as well as around the world.

He was the Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre (pictured above), where the majority of his work has been premiered, between 1972-2009.

The theatre was the first venue in Britain to professionally perform plays ‘in the round’, in which the audience surrounds the performance space. It began in 1955 performing plays in the round on the first floor of the public library, before in 1996 – on its third and final move – it settled into the converted premises of the old Odeon cinema.

It is committed to new writing and over 300 plays have premiered there since 1955.

Talking about the theatre, Alan Ayckbourn has said: “It’s a special auditorium in that it’s in the round… One of Stephen Joseph’s concepts was the round, the other was the encouragement of new writing… Theatre in a town is a life-changing experience for a lot of people… Scarborough has been very, very lucky to have inherited it.”

As part of the “diamond jubilee” year of celebrations, Ayckbourn has also directed a revival of his 1974 play Confusions.

You can find out more about all of Stephen Joseph Theatre’s 60th anniversary celebrations, and book tickets online.

You can find out more about Alan Ayckbourn, and all his plays, on his website.

Photo of Stephen Joseph Theatre: James Drawneek

Photo of Alan Ayckbourn: Andrew Higgins