|Address||55 Norfolk Street|
Sheffield, S1 1DA
|Designation||Grade II listed building|
The Crucible Theatre (often referred to simply 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 World Snooker Championship, which has been held annually at the venue since 1977. Its name is a reference to the local steel industry.
The Crucible Theatre was built by M J Gleeson and opened in 1971. It replaced the Playhouse Repertory theatre in Townhead Street. 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. 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. Fanfare, an evening's entertainment showing children acting in an improvised scene, Chekhov's Swan Song 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 theatre – the 400 seat Studio, which opened with the main house.
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.
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 Studio Theatre, housed in the same complex, and the large capacity neighbouring receiving venue the Lyceum.
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". The Ladies World 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.
- "Gleeson spurns takeover advance". Yorkshire Post. 9 January 2006. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
- Sheffield Theatres – venues Archived 5 July 2006 at the Wayback Machine
- Sheffield City Council Executive Recruitment – About the City Archived 9 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Historic England. "The Crucible Theatre (1392311)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- Gardner, Lyn (9 February 2007). "Gone West". The Guardian.
- Earl re-opens Crucible Theatre
- Mason, Peter (2 May 2014). "Austere breeze-block veneer conceals the magic of the Crucible Theatre". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
- Crucible Theatre, Sheffield: A Model Theatre in the Tradition of the Juvenile Drama, Michael D Everett, MDE Pubns (1981), ISBN 0-906933-01-3
- The acoustical design and performance of the Sheffield Crucible Theatre, D. J. Oldham, Dept. of Building Science, Faculty of Architectural Studies, University of Sheffield (1973), OL 13964103M, OCLC 20304835
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