Crucible Theatre
Main entrance to the Crucible Theatre in July 2010
Map
Address55 Norfolk Street
Sheffield, S1 1DA
England
Coordinates53°22′52″N 01°28′00″W / 53.38111°N 1.46667°W / 53.38111; -1.46667 (Crucible Theatre)
OwnerSheffield Theatres
TypeThrust Stage
Capacity980
Construction
Opened1971
ArchitectRHWL
Website
sheffieldtheatres.co.uk
Listed Building – Grade II
Official nameThe Crucible Theatre[1]
Designated1 November 2007[1]
Reference no.1392311[1]

The Crucible Theatre, or simply known as The Crucible, is a theatre in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England which opened in 1971. Although it hosts regular theatrical performances, it is best known for hosting professional snooker's most prestigious tournament, the annual World Snooker Championship, which has been held at the venue since 1977. Its name is a reference to a process in the local steel industry. In May 2022 plans were unveiled to build a new 3,000-seat venue nearby with a bridge connecting the two buildings.

History

The Crucible Theatre at night

The Crucible Theatre was built by M J Gleeson and opened in 1971.[2] It replaced the Sheffield Repertory Theatre which was based in Townhead Street at the Sheffield Playhouse. In 1967 Colin George, the founding artistic director of the Crucible, recommended a thrust stage for Sheffield, inspired by theatres created by Sir Tyrone Guthrie. Tanya Moiseiwitsch, who had been involved in designing Guthrie's theatres, was recruited to design Gleeson's theatre as well.[3] The architects Renton Howard Wood Levin Architects were employed and the building itself began to take shape in 1969. It was completed in two years, with the opening performance in November 1971. The opening night performances were Fanfare, an evening's entertainment showing children acting in an improvised scene, Anton Chekhov's Swansong with Ian McKellen and Edward Petherbridge, and a music hall finale with a Sheffield brass band.

This demonstrated the versatility of the stage, which has since been adapted for dance and musical performances, as well as classical and modern theatre. The Crucible Theatre also hosts touring productions and the World Snooker Championship.

The audience sits on three sides but no member is more than 22 yards (20 metres) from the performer. Consequently, although it seats 980 people the spectator has an intimate relationship with the activity on stage. Colin George and the administrator David Brayshaw persuaded the Gulbenkian Foundation to finance the building of a professional studio theatre – the 400 seat Tanya Moiseiwitsch Playhouse, which opened with the main house.

In 2001, the Crucible was awarded the Barclays 'Theatre of the Year Award'.[4] It is a Grade II listed building.[1]

The Crucible Theatre before and after refurbishment
Image taken April 2005
Image taken July 2010

The building went through a £15 million refurbishment between 2007 and late 2009 – opening during that period only for the 2008 and 2009 World Snooker Championships.[5]

The Crucible reopened as a theatre on 11 February 2010 with a production of Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, with the official reopening by Prince Edward on 18 February 2010.[6]

In May 2022 plans were unveiled for a new World Snooker Championship venue that would be attached to the existing Crucible Theatre building via a bridge. The new venue is to host up to 3,000 spectators.[7] Snooker promoter Barry Hearn had confirmed talks were underway with Sheffield City Council in April 2022. Hearn added that the tournament could move elsewhere if the new project is not supported but, "the Crucible name is synonymous with snooker globally... so the name has to remain."[8] The new building has been designed by the architect James Burland, the architect behind the City of Manchester Stadium, along with Arup. The building will also house a snooker museum.[9]

Theatre

Under the distinguished leadership of a succession of artistic directors, The Crucible is a producing theatre, meaning shows are designed and rehearsed in-house. Productions are normally overseen by the Sheffield Theatres Group which also comprises the smaller Playhouse, housed in the same complex, and the large capacity neighbouring receiving venue the Lyceum.

Sports venue

The 2013 World Snooker Championship
Aerial view of the Crucible Theatre

The World Snooker Championship tournament has been played annually at the Crucible since 1977, and the venue has been lauded for creating a special feeling of excitement around the event. Sports journalist Peter Mason, in The Guardian, has argued that while the physical aspects of the Crucible are "greatly underwhelming", there is an undeniably special atmosphere inside the auditorium which means that "against all the modernist odds this relentlessly forward-looking theatre appears to have become infused with memories of the past every bit as easily as if it were a creaking old music hall dating back to the 19th century".[10]

The World Women's Snooker Championship was also held at the Crucible between 1998 and 2003 but was eventually withdrawn due to financial difficulties. The venue has also hosted championships of other indoor sports, such as table tennis and squash.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d Historic England. "The Crucible Theatre (Grade II) (1392311)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  2. ^ "Gleeson spurns takeover advance". Yorkshire Post. 9 January 2006. Archived from the original on 19 September 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  3. ^ Sheffield Theatres – venues Archived 5 July 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Sheffield City Council Executive Recruitment – About the City Archived 9 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Gardner, Lyn (9 February 2007). "Gone West". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 May 2007.
  6. ^ "Earl re-opens Crucible Theatre". The Yorkshire Post. 19 February 2010. Archived from the original on 7 October 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  7. ^ Southby, Ben (7 May 2022). "Plans announced for new World Snooker Championship venue to compliment Crucible Theatre". EuroSport. Retrieved 15 May 2022.
  8. ^ Llewellyn, Liam (21 April 2022). "Barry Hearn wants 'new Crucible' and admits snooker may leave Sheffield if project fails". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 15 May 2022.
  9. ^ Haigh, Phil (7 May 2022). "Plans unveiled for new World Snooker Championship venue attached to the Crucible". The Metro. Retrieved 15 May 2022.
  10. ^ Mason, Peter (2 May 2014). "Austere breeze-block veneer conceals the magic of the Crucible Theatre". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 May 2019.

Bibliography