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About Us

Our iconic theatre is an integral part of the world-renowned cultural offer of our coastal region.

Our Aims

The Stephen Joseph Theatre is an independent theatre and cinema based in Scarborough, North Yorkshire.

Our home is a beautifully-restored 1930s Odeon cinema, home to our famous theatre-in-the-round which was the first of its kind in the world. 

The Round provides a truly unique experience as the audience is seated all around the stage. Not only does the audience see the performance from every angle, it also brings the actor into the same space as the audience.

"Let’s have the actors in the same room as the audience, let’s have four front rows, let’s get really excited about this acting business!"

Stephen Joseph, 1959

As one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations, our work is made possible by National Lottery players, so we want to thank the public for their support and stress that this is your space, so please come and enjoy it!

The man behind the name

Stephen Joseph is one of the great unsung heroes of British theatre. During the 1950s and 1960s he was responsible for pioneering new theatre forms in this country and was a passionate advocate of new writing and new ways of working. He was an innovator, risk-taker, radical, pioneer, teacher and real inspiration. His legacy lives on in Scarborough as he established a thriving independent theatre that’s become one of the most significant theatres in the UK.

Paying homage to innovation

In 1955, Stephen Joseph established the country's first theatre-in-the-round on the first floor of Scarborough Library. The theatre flourished and later took up residence at the Westwood School and then in the vacated Odeon cinema. It comprises two auditoria: The Round, and The McCarthy. The new theatre boasted two technical innovations: the stage lift, facilitating speedy set changes and the ‘trampoline’ mesh above the stage which allows easy access to the lighting grid. Stephen's protégé, Alan Ayckbourn, was appointed Artistic Director in 1972 and encouraged his legacy of new writing with the world premiere of 239 plays by 87 writers during his tenure. In 2009, Chris Monks took over as Artistic Director and brought his unique brand of operatic musicals to the programme. Since 2016, Caroline Routh and Paul Robinson have run the show and continue to place new writing, new forms and community at the heart of what we do.

Spine tingling performances

Our very purpose is to create bold, relevant and surprising work that inspires and entertains. The kind that gives you goosebumps and makes tears spring to your eyes. The kind that makes you clap until your hands hurt and makes your heart feel like it’s going to burst. And leaves you with a spring in your step as you walk home.

Our vision for the future

Culture provokes interest and lets imagination run wild. Sharing our experiences and stories helps build communities. And the wonder of collaboration builds a compassionate and engaged society. Our role is to give everyone the opportunity to discover and celebrate their own creativity and that of others. In short, we believe ‘this is yours’.

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Help SJT continue to thrive

Your donations keep the magic alive for generations to come. Thank you!