Appeals: Scarborough Theatre Development Trust

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The Independent Online
A caricature of the playwright Alan Ayckbourn by Clive Francis, an artist and actor. The print is part of a limited edition of 250, each one signed by both the artist and the playwright, which is being sold in aid of the Scarborough Theatre Development Trust. All proceeds from the prints, which cost pounds 47 each including VAT, will help the trust's plans to convert a former cinema in Scarborough into a theatre to house the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, which is at present housed in a former grammar school.

Alan Ayckbourn was encouraged to write by Stephen Joseph (1921-67), the son of the actress Hermione Gingold and the publisher Michael Joseph, who began his theatrical career as a director at the Lowestoft Repertory Theatre. After studying drama at the University of Iowa in the United States, Stephen Joseph returned to Britain in 1955 intent on presenting theatre in the round, as in Shakespeare's day, and began his first venture presenting summer drama seasons in two rooms above the local library in Scarborough. The company, which remained there until 1976, aimed to encourage new writing for the theatre and Joseph nurtured Ayckbourn, Harold Pinter, and Alan Plater, amongst others.

From 1956, the company also toured England with its own portable theatre in the round. Joseph died of cancer, aged 46, having also founded the Victoria Theatre, in Stoke-on-Trent.

Ayckbourn has been artistic director of the theatre since 1970: only three of his plays have not had their premieres there. The theatre finds its present quarters cramping: the studio theatre is usually employed as a restaurant and cannot be used at the same time as the main auditorium. The new theatre will have two working auditoriums as well as a wine bar and foyer. So far pounds 2.3m of the total pounds 4.35m required has been raised.

For further information, contact: Scarborough Theatre Development Trust, c/o Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, Valley Bridge Parade, Scarborough, North Yorkshire YO11 2PL, telephone 0723 582388.