Surrounded!

Alan Ayckbourn and Tom Courtenay are among those talking to Robert Powell about Britain's experiment in theatre-in-the-round, which was begun in Scarborough by Stephen Joseph 50 years ago.

In 1955 the young theatre director founded Britain's first theatre-in-the-round.

With a hatred of the traditional proscenium arch that separates audience from actors, he was determined to find a space where the audience could be seated on all sides of the action.

He found his theatre in the library building in Scarborough.

Robert Powell, who performed in the early days of that first company, talks to the playwright and director Sir Alan Ayckbourn, the actor Tom Courtenay, designer Alison Chitty, director Peter Cheeseman and actors and audiences about the challenges and excitements of playing in the round.

For Tom Courtenay it is the immediacy that he loves, when he can see that he is holding the audience with every word and gesture.

For Ayckbourn, it has been a long labour of love for both the man, Stephen Joseph, and the tradition that he began.

He shows Robert Powell round the third and most spectacular of the spaces, set in the transformed cinema building in the centre of Scarborough, and remembers the earlier days when he was beginning his career which was to give him the accolade of Britain's most prolific and successful contemporary playwright.

At that time the company had to make do with temporary audience seating, flock wallpaper, and one room which trebled as changing room, toilet and kitchen.

But the plays Ayckbourn wrote for the company travelled the world.

And the audiences are universal in their feeling of being intimately connected to the events unfolding before them.

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Alan Ayckbourn and Tom Courtenay are among those talking to Robert Powell about Britain's experiment in theatre-in-the-round, which was begun in Scarborough by Stephen Joseph 50 years ago.

In 1955 the young theatre director founded Britain's first theatre-in-the-round.

With a hatred of the traditional proscenium arch that separates audience from actors, he was determined to find a space where the audience could be seated on all sides of the action.

He found his theatre in the library building in Scarborough.

Robert Powell, who performed in the early days of that first company, talks to the playwright and director Sir Alan Ayckbourn, the actor Tom Courtenay, designer Alison Chitty, director Peter Cheeseman and actors and audiences about the challenges and excitements of playing in the round.

For Tom Courtenay it is the immediacy that he loves, when he can see that he is holding the audience with every word and gesture.

For Ayckbourn, it has been a long labour of love for both the man, Stephen Joseph, and the tradition that he began.

He shows Robert Powell round the third and most spectacular of the spaces, set in the transformed cinema building in the centre of Scarborough, and remembers the earlier days when he was beginning his career which was to give him the accolade of Britain's most prolific and successful contemporary playwright.

At that time the company had to make do with temporary audience seating, flock wallpaper, and one room which trebled as changing room, toilet and kitchen.

But the plays Ayckbourn wrote for the company travelled the world.

And the audiences are universal in their feeling of being intimately connected to the events unfolding before them.