On 18 November 2020 we are celebrating our 85th birthday. Founded on chocolate, the Joseph Rowntree Theatre was built in 1935 by the Rowntree family for the workers at their chocolate factory. The Rowntree Players, an amateur company formed in 1916, made the theatre its home and they are still performing productions on the same stage whose boards were trod by the original chocolate workers.
An integral part of the Rowntree community, our beautiful Art Deco theatre is one of only two facilities still being used for its intended purpose. Run entirely by volunteers and continuing the tradition of providing a place for affordable, accessible entertainment, our theatre is much loved and valued by the local people it serves. Many have been involved with the theatre for a long time - either in the audience, on the stage or as a volunteer – some even since the theatre opened 85 years ago. There are numerous stories to be told of people who have come into contact with the theatre over the years. These stories form a major part of our celebrations as we mark 85 years of theatre life.
As well as looking back at our past, we’re also looking to the future – welcoming the next generation of people to come to our theatre and enjoy our shows. We are celebrating the past and looking forward to the future as our lovely theatre gets ready for the next 85 years entertaining and providing a vibrant community hub for the people of York.
You'll be surprised how much is going on in our virtual theatre - plays, opera, festivals, musicals - don't miss out!