Stephen JosephWhy a website dedicated to Stephen Joseph?
Stephen Joseph was a pivotal figure in British theatre during the 1950s and 1960s who had a profound, yet often over-looked impact on theatre which continues to this day.
His advocacy of new theatre forms - particularly theatre-in-the-round - stood in stark contrast to the established theatre of the era, which was almost universally proscenium arch based. Not only did he found two theatre-in-the-round which flourish today (the Stephen Joseph Theatre and the New Vic), but his hand can be seen in many of the important non-proscenium spaces which were built during the 1960s, 1970s and beyond.
He was also an inspirational figure to many playwrights, directors, designers and actors - not least the playwright and director Alan Ayckbourn who credits Stephen as being the most influential figure in his life. Stephen's passion and enthusiasm for theatre, his advocacy of new playwriting and new theatre forms were an inspiration to many, who still speak of his influence and impact today.
For these reasons alone, Stephen Joseph's achievements and place in British theatre deserve to be better recognised and hopefully this website will mark another step towards that wider recognition.
Where can I find out information about the Library Theatre?
Stephen Joseph's most notable achievements tend to centre around the final 12 years of his life between 1955 and 1967. Notably this coincides with the opening of the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in 1955 which acted almost as a laboratory for many of his experimental ideas.
The Library Theatre - now the Stephen Joseph Theatre - is arguably Stephen Joseph's most visible legacy and continues to advocate theatre-in-the-round and new playwriting.
The early pivotal years of the Library Theatre are also not widely known or documented. Stephen Joseph opened the theatre in 1955, but it is less well-known that he also closed the venue in 1965. It was only through the dedication of an amateur theatrical, Ken Boden, that the Library Theatre re-opened as a professional venue in 1967 - although no longer with the active involvement of Stephen Joseph, who would die later that year. Despite this second phase of the theatre's life (post 1967) lacking Stephen's involvement, its creator's legacy would be ensured when, from 1972, Alan Ayckbourn became its Artistic Director; this site only nominally touches on the theatre post 1967 as the Ayckbourn years have been extensively chronicled elsewhere.
In-depth details about the history of the Library Theatre - and the Stephen Joseph Theatre as a whole - can be found on our sister website Scarborough In The Round, which can also be accessed by clicking the Library Theatre tab at the top of the page.
Who administers the site?
This website is a sister-site to Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website www.alanayckbourn.net and Scarborough In The Round www.theatre-in-the-round.co.uk and has been created by Alan Ayckbourn's archivist and website administrator Simon Murgatroyd; who also maintains The Bob Watson Archive at the Stephen Joseph Theatre. The content of this website is co-curated by Simon Murgatroyd and Dr Paul Elsam, who has extensively studied and researched Stephen Joseph both for his PhD and for his book Stephen Joseph: Theatre Pioneer and Provocateur (Bloomsbury, 2013).
Can I contact the website?
You can contact the website with general requests via the Contact Us page.