Live theatre is back at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre - the programme from September to December revealed and how you can book

An innovative autumn and winter season  at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre has been crafted to combine live theatre for socially-distanced audiences with digital work for those that prefer to stay at home.
The play will be a family affair From left, Jane Thornton, Martha Godber, John Godber, Elizabeth GodberThe play will be a family affair From left, Jane Thornton, Martha Godber, John Godber, Elizabeth Godber
The play will be a family affair From left, Jane Thornton, Martha Godber, John Godber, Elizabeth Godber

It includes the world premiere of a new play by John Godber, a new audio recording by the author of an Alan Ayckbourn play, and a one-person Christmas show, one of the few in the region, which was specially rewritten to adapt to current circumstances.

Artistic director Paul Robinson said: “We’ve worked hard to create an ambitious season of relatively small-scale work, but one that promises great entertainment and really does have something for everyone, including shows for those who are happy to return to the building, and also for those who aren’t.

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“We see it as part of our ongoing civic role to open as soon as is reasonably practicable, and to present irresistible work alongside meticulously thought-through health and safety measures.

“Our family show at Christmas, for instance, was originally written for five actors, but that would have made rehearsing impossibly under current guidelines – writer Nick Lane has adapted it into a remarkable one-woman show that we’re confident will be every bit as much fun as the original and will really showcase the multi-talented Polly Lister.

“Everything will pay proper heed to social distancing, for both the audience and for our staff and performers.”

The autumn/winter season shows are (live in the building unless otherwise stated):

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Love Letters at Home (online – October 1): In response to our desire for connection in times of physical distance, Uninvited Guests has created an innovative, digital, wholly personal and wonderfully live experience. By collecting song requests and dedications from audience members, they create a show that’s unique to each audience. Join them to raise a glass to long lost and current loves, to mums and dads, and to absent friends. A live performance on Zoom.

Sexy Lamp ( October 15): Ever been treated like an inanimate object? Katie has. She’s actually a friendly, lovable and hilarious real life person. Join her as she relives, through story and songs, all the times she was not seen as one. Somewhere between the comedy of Victoria Wood, the comfort of going for a drink with your best mate and the high drama of Hamlet,* Katie Arnstein’s solo show won both Show of the Week and Pleasance Pick at last year’s VAULT Festival.

*It’s nothing like Hamlet.

Bloodshot (October 21 to 24): In Douglas Post’s one-man thriller, directed by Patrick Sandford, Scarborough-born actor and Stephen Joseph Theatre artistic associate Simon Slater plays Derek Eveleigh, a photographer with a serious drinking problem who pursues a mysterious female subject across 1950s London from racially troubled Notting Hill to the raucous entertainments of Soho.

John Godber’s Sunny Side Up! (October 28 to 31): Written and directed by John Godber, and performed by John, his wife Jane Thornton and their daughter Martha Godber, Sunny Side Up! is the hilarious and moving account of a struggling Yorkshire coast B&B and the people who run it. Join proprietors Barney, Cath and Tina as they share their stories of awkward clients, snooty relatives and eggs over easy, in this seaside rollercoaster which digs into what our ‘staycations’ are all about.

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Dogwalker (November 6 and 7): When Helen finds a dead body in the local dog park suddenly everyone is paying attention to her. At least for a little while. But now she's had a taste of the limelight Helen isn't going to fade into the shadows without a fight. Dogwalker is a dark comedy from Alison Carr, whose sold-out performances of The Last Quiz Night on Earth were due to open at the Stephen Joseph in March. It was first submitted though theOpen Script Submissions window and we are developing the play for a potential run at the Edinburgh Festival. Directed by the theatre's Carne Trust associate director Chelsey Gillard.

My Favourite Summer (November 12 to 14): Join Dave in 1995 as he spends a month working alongside a nutcase called Melvin in the summer job from hell. Saving money to take the girl he loves away on holiday before she disappears out of his life forever has never been so hard. Still, at least the weather’s nice. Originally produced to huge acclaim by Hull Truck in 2007 and featuring the original cast (not to mention a belting ‘90s soundtrack), My Favourite Summer is a comedy for everyone who’s ever been in love and lived to tell the tale. Written by Nick Lane, who has adapted our recent Christmas shows including this year’s The Snow Queen, and whose adaptation of The Sign of Four was a bit hit with audiences last year, this semi-staged performance is directed by the author.

Orpheus and Eurydice (November 19 to 21): Performed by a cast including Serena Manteghi, who electrified Stephen Joseph audiences as both LV in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice and Yasmin in Build a Rocket, this award-winning, modern re-telling of an ancient myth from The Flanagan Collective and Gobbledigook Theatre weaves a world of dive bars, side streets and ancient gods.

Haunting Julia (online throughout December – exact dates to be confirmed): Available only from the SJT website, this audio version of Alan Ayckbourn’s ghostly 1994 play sees the author play all three parts, and follows on from the huge success of his first audio play earlier this year, Anno Domino, which he performed with his wife, actor Heather Stoney.

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The Snow Queen (December 4 to 30): Adapted from the story by Hans Christian Andersen, this one-woman version will be performed by Polly Lister, who was part of the SJT summer company in 2017, playing Mari in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice and Di in Di and Viv and Rose. The SJT has reassembled the crack team that has created hit Christmas shows for the last four years: director Paul Robinson, writer Nick Lane and musical director Simon Slater.

There will also be a series of rehearsed playreadings in the theatre on WednesdayOctober 7, Tuesday October 13 and Tuesday October, 20 and then each Tuesday from November 3 to 24 November, including The Underdog by Sarah Gordon, Tapped by Katie Redford and Canton by Rebecca Jade Hammond.

Further shows are due to be announced soon, including an evening of conversation with one of the UK’s favourite actors, Maureen Lipman, and an innovative online show from Daniel Kitson.

All the autumn season events will be added to the Stephen Joseph website and booking will open for Circle members from Tuesday September, 8 and generally from Friday September 11.

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To book, please visit the website: or call the Box Office on 01723 370541 (currently open Thursdays to Saturdays, 11am to 4pm, for both phone calls and in-person bookings).

The SJT 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.

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