New writers take centre stage at the Stephen Joseph Theatre

Charlotte Harwood and Lara Stubbs. Photo by James Drawneek
Charlotte Harwood and Lara Stubbs. Photos by James Drawneek

The Stephen Joseph Theatre’s summer of new writing continues this August with the début of Screenplay featuring work by four emerging UK playwrights.

Since the arrival of associate director Henry Bell to the Scarborough theatre in May last year, the SJT has renewed focus on its literary department.

As a result, the theatre has commissioned Kate Brower, Jimmy Osborne, Claudine Toutoungi and Isabel Wright for a project which celebrates the history of cinema in the art deco Odeon building which has been the theatre’s home since 1996.

The four shorts will be shown in the McCarthy auditorium which is used for both theatre and cinema. There will be the opportunity to see all four plays in one performance as well as separately.

SJT's Henry Bell with writer Claudine Toutoungi. Photo by James Drawneek
Henry Bell with writer Claudine Toutoungi.

Said Henry: “The idea for Screenplay came about on my first day at the SJT while I was sitting in the McCarthy thinking about the sheer amount of stories that have taken place in the audiences of the cinema since 1936.

“At the SJT we want to get larger numbers of new voices into the theatre, particularly writers who were keen to have their work staged by us but who haven’t had the opportunity before.

“From receiving nearly 500 initial script submissions, we’re now very pleased to present new work by Jimmy, Isabel, Kate and Claudine whose ideas for this project really stood out.

“We’re delighted to announce that we’ll also be working with Claudine again in the coming autumn season to stage her play Slipping at the SJT – more details to be announced soon.”

SJT artistic director Chris Monks added: “The Stephen Joseph Theatre has a great reputation for promoting new writing and this season we are making the most of this opportunity.

“The revitalisation of our literary department means we can accept and produce new scripts and engage with new writers in a way in which we haven’t been able to do for some time.”

Screenplay features:

1936. An Empty Seat by Jimmy Osborne

Mae has landed her dream job as an usherette working the opening night of Scarborough Odeon at the screening of The Ghost Goes West. It’s a full house except for one seat next to the town outcast. Can Mae see past Henry’s betrayal and find mutual ground?

1954. The Illicit Dark by Isabel Wright

A showing of Rear Window brings together three people with mysterious intentions. Is Jeanne being watched by Charles? Does he have a violent past? And is Susan, the cinema usherette, trying to protect or take advantage of Jeanne’s concerns?

1973. Double Feature by Kate Brower

It’s a midnight movie double bill of The Wicker Man and Don’t Look Now. A night out ought to bring Richie and Diana closer together, by fear if nothing else. But who is the unseen Jules adding fuel to the fire?

1998. Bit Part by Claudine Toutoungi

Sisters Julie and Martine are polar opposites with an attraction wearing thin. Awaiting their screen debuts as extras in Little Voice, now is the time to speak up about what lies ahead.

The parts are played by Charlotte Harwood (Loserville), Lara Stubbs (The Barber of Shavingham) and Paul Ryan (Mamma Mia!).

Screenplay, the individual shorts and the relative films will be shown in the McCarthy on various dates from August 1 to 30.

Full details can be found at

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