The Scarborough Evening News - - FRONT PAGE - by sue wilkin­son sue.wilkin­ Twit­ter@SueWilkin­sonSN

Anew artis­tic di­rec­tor, a new vi­sion and a new era – the stage is set for change at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scar­bor­ough.

Paul Robinson, who took up the reins in June, has un­veiled his first pro­gramme for the sum­mer sea­son at the theatre – which has a world­wide rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing the home of Alan Ay­ck­bourn’s plays.

“I am in­ter­ested in work which asks big ques­tions and which takes the tem­per­a­ture of the time and what a time to be do­ing that,” said Paul.

“Don’t be sur­prised then if there are plays about so­cial and po­lit­i­cal change; about na­tional iden­tity and pop­ulism; about con­tem­po­rary and di­verse ways of liv­ing; plays about class; about sex­ual iden­tity; plays about north ver­sus south; plays about per­sonal com­mu­ni­ca­tion in a dig­i­tal age,” he said.

His strapline for the sea­son is: Or­di­nary lives, ex­tra­or­di­nary sto­ries.

To launch his ap­proach Paul has cho­sen to present and di­rect Jim Cartwright’s the Rise and Fall of Lit­tle Voice.

His open­ing move to get the the town on side, to break down the bar­rier that ex­ists be­tween the luvvies in their ‘ivory tower’ at the top of West­bor­ough and the rest of us, is a stroke of ge­nius.

The story’s links with the town are the stuff of le­gend and there is an im­me­di­ate af­fec­tion for it. It was filmed here with Michael Caine, Ewan McGre­gor, Brenda Blethyn, Jane Hor­rocks and Jim Broad­bent in lead roles.

It has great songs – made fa­mous by Judy Gar­land, Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe and Shirley Bassey among oth­ers – and is an ac­ces­si­ble story of a shy young woman try­ing to break free of her dom­i­neer­ing mother and come to terms with her fa­ther’s death.

Ge­nius – but ob­vi­ous – an ap­ple on the head mo­ment – it is such an ob­vi­ous choice – it’s a won­der no-one has done it be­fore.

“I wanted to make some­thing which di­rectly spoke to Scar­bor­ough, to theatre-go­ers and be­yond,” said Paul.

“The Rise and Fall of Lit­tle Voice is in turns bru­tal and ten­der, ter­ri­fy­ing and ex­hil­a­rat­ing and this pro­duc­tion will serve up the per­fect cock­tail of Hol­ly­wood glitz and north­ern grit. It’s also packed with hi­lar­i­ous char­ac­ters and hit songs. Bold, brassy and big­hearted.

“It’s a choice born of the de­sire to make sure that the mul­ti­far­i­ous in­hab­i­tants of this beau­ti­ful town and re­gion know the theatre is there for them as much as for our sum­mer guests.

“It’s a play about or­di­nary peo­ple who might live some­where like this. It’s big hearted. It’s the­atri­cally bold. It’s very funny. Th­ese are some of the key fea­tures of what will qual­ify as a ‘Round’ play from now on,” he said.

Of course, how­ever it is pack­aged, at the heart of the sea­son is work by Alan Ay­ck­bourn. As has be­come cus­tom­ary, there will be a re­vival of a clas­sic – this year it is Tak­ing Steps, and a new play.

A Brief His­tory of Women is, said Alan, “a com­edy in four parts about an un­re­mark­able man and the re­mark­able women who loved him, left him, or lost him over 60 years”.

It’s also about the equally re­mark­able old manor house.

Alan, who was artis­tic di­rec­tor of the Stephen Joseph, for more than 35 years, will be at the cen­tre of two gala evenings cel­e­brat­ing his 60-year as­so­ci­a­tion with the venue.

Over the course of the two evenings there will be anec­dotes and ex­cerpts from 64 plays in­clud­ing the Nor­man Con­quests, Ab­sent Friends, Way Up­stream and A Small Fam­ily Busi­ness.

Com­plet­ing the pro­gramme in the main house is Di and Viv and Rose by Scott and Bai­ley ac­tress Amelia Bull­more, who also played Steph Barnes in Corona­tion Street.

It will be the re­gional pre­miere of the award-win­ning play which cel­e­brates the friend­ship be­tween three women over 30 years.

In his first pro­gramme Paul has also set out a new di­rec­tion for the McCarthy – the stu­dio space at the Stephen Joseph.

“We are propos­ing that The MAC be­comes a cru­cible of new writ­ing devel­op­ment at the Stephen Jospeh and that we set a new man­date for the space - in terms of both the pro­duced and pre­sented work – that it will be the home of bold, new, di­verse work which is rel­e­vant and res­o­nant to the re­gion,” he said.

First in the Mac will be A Goth Week­end by Ali Tay­lor. The for­mer jour­nal­ist was in­spired by an ex­hi­bi­tion of pho­to­graphs from Whitby’s Goth Week­end. He then vis­ited the event and did in­ter­views to gather ma­te­rial for the play.

“We will also be find­ing all sorts of fu­ture life for our Mac work – proudly tak­ing our new ‘Made in Scar­bor­ough’ brand right round the coun­try,” said Paul

He makes it sound, ap­pro­pri­ately for a sea­side town, like the mes­sage run­ning through a stick of rock.

“At the heart of all of this work – and of the new artis­tic pol­icy – is our be­lief that ev­ery per­son, re­gard­less of their back­ground, can ful­fil their po­ten­tial if only given the op­por­tu­nity,” he said.

Lit­tle Voice ‘Cock­tail of Hol­ly­wood glitz and north­ern grit’ Paul Robinson: ‘Our new brand is ‘Made in Scar­bor­ough’

Pic­ture: Richard Pon­ter 170709c

The Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scar­bor­ough launches its sum­mer show sea­son at the theatre . Artis­ticdi­rec­tor Paul Robinson and play­wright and for­mer artis­tic di­rec­tor Sir Alan Ay­ck­bourn share the stage

1. The Rise and Fall of Lit­tle Voice

2. A Goth Week­end

3. A Brief His­tory of Women

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