Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre prepares to reopen

Staff at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre are  preparing the building for its re-opening later this week.

By Sue Wilkinson
Monday, 27th July 2020, 12:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th July 2020, 8:04 am
SJT manager Paul Baines letting Scarborough know
SJT manager Paul Baines letting Scarborough know

The theatre is taking a cautious approach. It’s re-opening in stages, and will be monitoring and reacting to public feedback at every step of the way.

The plan starts with the temporary relocation of one of the town’s most popular cafés, Eat Me from Thursday July 30.

That will be followed by the re-opening of the cinema with a programme of films and streamings from August 20.

And the aim is to bring live theatre back to its audiences as soon as possible, whilst at all times paying heed to current government guidelines.

TAKE A LOOK: In pictures: theatre reopens hereEat Me Café will be operating from the theatre’s first floor bar lounge for three days each week. With a brand new name – Eat Me @ The SJT – the award-winning venue, which has been named as a Local Gem in The Good Food Guide every year for the past six years, will open from 11am to 8pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with a menu featuring some old favourites alongside exciting new dishes.

Café owners Martyn Hyde and Stephen Dinardo explain: “Our current premises can only seat people at quite close proximity; in the theatre, we can provide much greater social distancing.

“We have a long-standing and close friendship with the SJT, and they’re just across the road: their spacious bar lounge, which for many years was also a restaurant, is just perfect.”

Eat Me Café at Hanover Road will still be open on Mondays to Wednesdays, but can only cater for small numbers of patrons at any one time.

From Thursday August 20, the theatre will present a programme of screenings in its McCarthy cinema, including new movie Summerland, which stars Gemma Arterton alongside Scarborough-born actor Penelope Wilton, and recorded streamings including Andre Rieu’s Magical Maastricht: Together in Music, Michael Ball and& Alfie Boe – Back Together, and Mick Fleetwood & Friends. A full programme will be announced shortly.

Meanwhile, artistic director Paul Robinson is hard at work planning a programme of live theatre that can be presented in the Round auditorium safely and as soon as current government guidelines allow.

The SJT’s executive director Caroline Routh said: "We've always been proud of our role as a theatre rooted in Scarborough; in these difficult times it’s even more important to us to do what we can to help support our community. Eat Me is a local institution and has been a brilliant supporter of the SJT for many years so we're delighted to be able to help them re-open in a way that we hope means they’ll continue to thrive for years to come."

Paul Robinson says: “It’s a fascinating creative challenge to find shows that are enticing enough to bring audiences back into our building whilst simultaneously allowing us to adhere to social distancing guidelines, both on and offstage.

“We’re in discussions with a lot of old friends including Hull-born actor Maureen Lipman, and Scarborough’s own Simon Slater, our Artistic Associate and West End star of Mamma Mia!

“I’m confident that we’ve come up with some really innovative and entertaining answers, and we hope to be able to start announcing those in the near future.

Both Eat Me @ The SJT and the Stephen Joseph Theatre will be re-opening in accordance with current legislation and guidelines: both have been awarded the VisitEngland ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard and supporting mark, demonstrating that they are adhering to government and public health guidance, have carried out a Covid-19 risk assessment and checked they have the required processes in place.