SJT ‘could stage open air shows’

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THE Stephen Joseph Theatre could stage a number of events at Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre in the future, according to a new report.

The report, to Scarborough Council’s health and wellbeing scrutiny committee, is part of the authority’s annual review of Scarborough Theatre Trust.

It reveals the Stephen Joseph Theatre is to investigate using the Open Air Theatre, which hosted the borough’s own “Royal Variety Performance” – featuring the youth section of the SJT – during the Queen’s visit in May 2010.

Brian Bennett, the council’s head of tourism and culture, said: “The opening of the Open Air Theatre in 2010 was an historic moment for theatre provision in Scarborough, but the SJT is concerned that a winning formula of operation is still ongoing.

“It is an exciting space and the SJT would be interested in exploring the possibilities of using the space for ‘even theatre’.”

The report also states the theatre will continue its relationship with former artistic director Sir Alan Ayckbourn, who is to continue to premier his future work at the SJT before it goes worldwide.

Mr Bennett said: “Alan Ayckbourn re-affirmed his agreement with Chris Monks, that for the foreseeable future, he is prepared to direct a revival from his back catalogue of plays (now numbering over 70) and to have all his future new work premiered at the SJT before it gets presented worldwide.

“This is not only a huge benefit to the ongoing programming of the core work but once again shows his commitment to the theatre in Scarborough which gave him his first break as a writer.”

In 2010/11 the company toured in the round Chris Monks’ The Mikado and Alan Ayckbourn’s Communicating Doors and Life of Riley to the sister theatre the New Vic in Newcastle-under-Lyme and to the Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness on Windermere.

It also “restaged” Ayckbourn’s Communicating Doors and Life of Riley into a proscenium arch version, opening as usual in Guildford for two weeks before playing for a week at Bath, Oxford, Rich- mond, Cambridge, Malvern and Windsor.

“Taking the SJT’s core work out on the road not only makes good financial sense, it allows the theatre to keep the core workforce together and spreads the word of the SJT and Scarborough throughout the country,” added Mr Bennett.