The SJT at the Edinburgh Fringe

The Stephen Joseph Theatre is to make its first ever visit to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August.

The world famous 63-year-old theatre will be taking Build a Rocket, by Scarborough-born writer Christopher York, to the prestigious festival, it was announced at an event last week, at which it was also announced that former Artistic Director Alan Ayckbourn has accepted the title of Director Emeritus of the SJT.

Build a Rocket is a one-woman show directed by the SJT’s Artistic Director Paul Robinson and telling the story of young, feisty Yasmin, a Scarborough girl who’s been dealt a rough hand and has to decide whether to give in or get smart. It was first performed at the SJT last summer as part of a programme of play readings supported by the theatre’s Script Development Fund. The role of Yasmin will be played by Serena Manteghi, who audiences will remember as LV in last year’s hit production of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.

The show will have a single performance at the Latitude Festival in Suffolk on 13 July before returning to the SJT for two previews on 24 and 25 July, the first of which will be a ‘pay what you decide’ show.

It will then head to the Pleasance Courtyard where it can be seen throughout the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from 1 to 27 August, before returning to Scarborough for 10 performances between 31 August and 8 September.

The theatre also announced its main autumn production – the regional premiere of Zoe Cooper’s Jess and Joe Forever, the story of an unlikely teenage friendship – at the ‘celebration of summer’, which introduced an invited audience to many of the writers and directors working at the theatre throughout 2018.

Jess and Joe Forever received its world premiere at the Orange Tree Theatre in 2016, when writer Zoe Cooper won the ‘Offie’ (Off West End) Award for Most Promising Playwright and was also longlisted for Most Promising Playwright at the Evening Standard Awards. Directed by the SJT’s Associate Artistic Director Lotte Wakeham, it will be seen in the SJT’s McCarthy auditorium from 25 October to 10 November.

Guests at the event also heard about the SJT’s touring commitments for the rest of its 2018 summer shows. The 39 Steps, adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchan and the film by Alfred Hitchcock, from an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon, and directed by Paul Robinson, can be seen at the SJT from 21 June to 23 August before visiting Theatr Clwyd from 11 to 22 September.

This summer’s two Alan Ayckbourn plays, both directed by the author – a revival of the 1978 classic Joking Apart and the world premiere of his latest play, Better Off Dead – will be seen at the New Vic, Newcastle-under-Lyme (9 to 27 October) and the Old Laundry in Bowness-on-Windermere (31 October to 10 November) after their Scarborough run.

All of the shows will go out on tour under the banner of ‘Made in Scarborough’.

Paul Robinson said:
“Build a Rocket will signal the SJT’s debuts at both the Latitude and Edinburgh Festivals. It’s a stunning debut about a teenage girl from Scarborough who gets pregnant and (for probably all the wrong reasons) decides to keep her baby.”

Alan Ayckbourn said:
“I’m delighted to accept the title of Director Emeritus of the SJT – even though I had to ask what ‘Emeritus’ meant!”

The SJT at the Edinburgh Fringe Image
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funded by
Arts Council England
Whitby-Scarborough-Filey Borough of Scarborough