The Brontës, Morris dancing and happiness: season of new play readings at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre

A season of play readings with  themes ranging from the Brontë sisters and Morris dancing to self-help and happiness will introduce theatregoers to new writing at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre this autumn.

By Sue Wilkinson
Monday, 5th October 2020, 2:58 pm
Updated Monday, 5th October 2020, 3:04 pm
Series of play readings at the Stephen Joseph Theatre
Series of play readings at the Stephen Joseph Theatre

The six readings, performed by professional actors, will take place in front of a socially distanced audience, who can join in a discussion with the writer, director and actors at the end, potentially contributing to the plays’ development.

Artistic director Paul Robinson said: “These readings give our audiences a sneak preview of some shows that may go on to have a full production at the SJT – one of our biggest successes in recent years, Christopher York’s Build A Rocket, started out this way.”

The first reading, The Underdog, will be performed by Houmi Miura, Anna Soden, Monica Sagar and Joe Feeney. Casts for the other play readings will be announced soon.

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The six readings are all at 7.15pm and will take place in the Round, other than Canton, which will be in the McCarthy auditorium. They are:

The Underdog by Sarah Gordon: Wednesday October 7: Looking behind the legend of the Brontë sisters, The Underdog tells the story of the sibling power dynamics that shaped their uneven rise to fame. Individual ambition and differing levels of success increasingly collide with the desire for group empowerment. Which, let’s face it, is awkward. Especially when you’re the underdog - AKA Anne Brontë. Sarah Gordon’s gripping The Edit was seen at the Stephen Joseph in the spring of 2019.

Joy by Adam Hughes, Tuesday October 13: Joy explores those rare fleeting relationships between two strangers of different backgrounds, living side by side in the same community, and how their interactions can be a catalyst for change. Joy is a never without a smile and always looks on the bright side of life. Yet when son Ryan returns home following a messy breakup, she finds herself questioning what it really means to be happy...

Tapped by Katie Redford, Tuesday November 3: A comedy drama about three Co-op colleagues who attend a failing self-help group in Stapleford, Nottingham.

Every Tuesday evening, Gavi holds motivational meetings in his garage hoping to inspire his community. But when the only two people who turn up are bickering mother and daughter Denise and Jen, it’s clear he has his work cut out.

Canton by Rebecca Jade Hammond, Tuesday November 10: An Iraqi-Welsh Muslim woman and an ex-solider live in the multi-cultural area of Canton, Cardiff. Both wounded by tragedy they find unexpected solace in each other's company. Canton explores those rare fleeting relationships between two strangers of different backgrounds, living side by side in the same community and how their interactions can be a catalyst for change.

Worldly by Rachel Horner, Tuesday November 13: Jess knows that she’s going to survive Armageddon. She’s done the training, read all the books and is already planning what to name her pet panda on paradise earth. But she realises that with organised religion comes unorganised chaos, and not everyone is as faithful as they think they are. Worldly is a one-woman show about religion, family and unlearning everything you once knew.

With Bells On! by Chris Chilton, Tuesday November 24: Morris is a man with a passion. By day he sells rubber valves, but by night he is the Lord of the Dance, leading an unlikely group of friends on the road to the Morris Ring Regional Dance Off. A touching new comedy about friendship and Morris dancing by Yorkshire-based actor Chris Chilton.

Tickets for individual play readings are £5 each; to book, please visit the website: or call the box office on 01723 370541 - open Thursdays to Saturdays, 11am to 4pm, for both phone calls and in-person bookings.

The theatre has introduced a comprehensive programme of measures for the safety and comfort of its audiences ( and has been awarded the VisitEngland ‘We’re Good to Go’ industry standard mark, signifying that it adheres to government and public health guidance.