History of The Plowright Theatre
The Plowright Theatre is a live entertainment venue on Laneham Street in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire. It is owned by North Lincolnshire Council and managed by SMG Europe. It is the sister venue to The Baths Hall located on Doncaster Road in Scunthorpe.
The Plowright Theatre was commissioned by the former Scunthorpe Borough Council and built by J. W. Taylor in 1958. It is a traditional prosceniumstyle theatre with a 334 seat auditorium. Originally known as Scunthorpe Civic Theatre it was renamed in the 1990s in recognition of the achievements of local actress Joan Plowright. Plowright was born in Brigg, educated in Scunthorpe, and is currently the President of Scunthorpe Little Theatre Club. The club was founded by her father, Bill Plowright, and staged the theatre's first performance, Peer Gynt, in 1958.
According to extracts taken from the souvenir programme of the first production of Peer Gynt, the instructions given to the architect were to 'design a theatre, traditional in apperance and a capacity of 350; the auditorium has to have a raked floor and the theatre to be multi-purpose. Apart from the auditorium it has to have as large a stage as possible, two dressing rooms (now four), a workshop, a green room (now office), tea room (now coffee bar), cinema projection room (now technicians box) and the foyer'. All of these were included along with the oil-fired boiler (now gas fired) to heat the water circulating through the central heating system.
Since those early beginnings the basic auditorium's shell has changed very little. Apart from technological improvements to enhance the sight and sounds, the main structure is still the same as those designs as when the Scunthorpe Civic Theatre gave its inaugural production in 1958.
A number of hugely famous acts have performed at the theatre over the years, including Hollywood actor and popular comedian Lee Evans who, as part of the theatre's 50th anniversary in 2008, performed a low-key warm-up show for his arena tour. The gig sold out in less than an hour, a record that still stands today. The Bay City Rollers and Showaddywaddy have regularly performed to packed out crowds and Midge Ure and Canon & Ball remain popular. The town's pantomime is held every year at The Plowright Theatre and gaining popularity thanks in part to the ever-popular Dame, Annie Fanny.